GREENSBURG — Turnovers and missed free throws plagued the South Decatur boys basketball team in its 58-50 loss in the opening-round game of the South Decatur Sectional against Rising Sun on Tuesday.
The Cougars finished the season at 1-21.
South Decatur shot only 7 of 17 from the free-throw line, while the Shiners (9-15) were 17 of 21 from the stripe, with 7-of-8 shooting in the final minute of regulation.
The Cougars committed eight turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“I think the free-throw differential really hurt us tonight,” said South Decatur coach Jordan Stevens. “That really was the biggest difference.”
After a sloppy first half, the Cougars came out with more intensity in the third quarter and forced the Shiners into several turnovers. Cougars junior Jordan Ortman would score 11 points in the quarter as he led his team to a 19-4 advantage that give it a 42-38 lead.
Ortman would finish the game with 15 points, and senior Nick Schwering would finish with a team-high 17 points for South Decatur.
“We talked at halftime about being the aggressor in the second half,” Stevens said. “We went right at the basket more. We were penetrating well to find the right shooter and open shots. Defensively, we made a couple of tweaks as well, and our guys did a great job of defending and rebounding in that third quarter.”
In the final quarter, the Shiners were just too much. The trio of Kurtis Armstrong, Austin Armstrong and Mitchell Morris combined on the game to score 49 of the Shiners’ 58 total points. Morris and Austin Armstrong did most of the fourth-quarter damage, scoring 14 of the team’s final 20 points.
Morris finished with a game high 19 points, Austin Armstrong had 15 points, and Kurtis Armstrong added another 15 points.
Stevens returns the majority of his team for next season.
“The nice thing is that we do not have to rebuild,” Stevens said. “Many of our guys that I played tonight will be returning to us.
“Our four seniors (Schwering, Seth Niese, Sam Studler and Connor Maple) did a great job this year in terms of teaching culture to our young guys on the team, like how we do things and what the expectations are. With the season we’d been having, it would be easy just to pack up and quit for those guys. However, they came to work each and every day, and those are the lessons that we teach our young guys”