Decatur High’s game experience won out over Hartselle’s senior experience Tuesday as the Red Raiders claimed a 48-45 victory over the visiting Tigers.
The Red Raiders (2-2) used a late surge to take the win.
“This shows we can pull off a win in a crunch,” said Decatur senior Na’Vante Williams, who had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Decatur coach Jamie Lee said the victory was big because Williams and Rex Jarman are his only seniors while Hartselle has eight on its roster.
The loss wasn’t the way Hartselle coach Keith Wright would have hoped his Tigers would play in their season opener.
“We didn’t execute well, especially in the last two minutes of the game,” Wright said.
The first half was tight until a pair of 3-pointers by Chandler Boy gave Decatur a 27-19 lead at the half.
Timbo Slayton scored 10 of his game-high 17 points in the third quarter to lead the Tigers back into the game. Colsten Thompson’s layup gave Hartselle a brief lead, but Jaylen Hampton’s putback made it 36-35 Raiders entering the final quarter.
“Timbo’s a good player,” Wright said. “We fought back, and the kids played their guts out.”
With less than two minutes remaining, the Red Raiders spread the floor and their quick cuts turned a 43-42 lead into a victory. Lee said his intention wasn’t a stall tactic, but to create scoring opportunities.
A layup by Kaleb Smith, who also scored 11 points in the game, and two free throws in the final minute clinched the win.
“We just wanted to take our time and not play so fast to limit our mistakes,” Williams said.
Wright said his Tigers didn’t execute their offense and missed several opportunities in the final stretch.
Hartselle 32, Decatur 30: Hartselle senior Sarah Horner likes playing in Decatur High’s gymnasium.
She made her second buzzer-beating jumper against Decatur Tuesday to give the Hartselle girls a thrilling two-point win. The bucket was her only two points of the game.
Horner also beat Decatur with a game-winning shot last year in Red Raiders’ annual Christmas tournament.
Hartselle coach Gary Orr said senior Quanesha Burks did a good job of finding Horner open after the Tigers rebounded a missed shot.
“It was a great shot and a great assist,” Orr said.
Decatur coach Brad Boy said he told his girls to pay specific attention to Horner.
“We definitely had our chances,” Boy said. “The question is what you do with those chances, and we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Both teams struggled offensively throughout the night. Hartselle had 27 turnovers to 21 for Decatur, but scored 17 points off turnovers as compared to the Raiders’ 11 points off turnovers.
“We’re not going to score a lot of points,” Boy said. “That’s why we play defense the way we do.”
Boy’s girls press throughout, which both coaches said created the chaotic game.
Decatur High led 17-15 at the half, while Melissa Paul Hill’s layup gave the Tigers a 26-25 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“We just never settled down and ran our offense,” Orr said. “It’s early in the season, and we’ve got to get a few things worked out offensively.”
Neither team scored in the final 1:35 until Horner’s game-winner.
Allie Roden led Hartselle (3-1) with 10 points.
Constance Steele paced Decatur (3-5) with 12 points and Taneisha Johnson had eight.
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