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3rd-quarter spurt sends Cougars past arch-rivals

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GREENSBURG — South Decatur needed a spark in the second half in order to defeat rival North Decatur.

Junior guard Taylor Kopplin provided it. Kopplin scored 17 of his 25 points in the third quarter to help lead the Cougars to a 71-55 Mid-Hoosier Conference victory.

“I almost felt like I could throw up anything, and it would go in,” Kopplin said. “I owe it to my teammates. They did a good job finding me. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten the looks I did.”

South Decatur (13-5, 4-4) went into halftime with a one-point lead against North Decatur (4-15, 3-5).

Coach Tom Black challenged his players to play with more intensity in the second half.

“We didn’t do the things we needed to do in the first half,” Black said. “We didn’t follow our game plan. We talked about getting our intensity level up as a collective.”

North Decatur’s John Hammersmith made a free throw with 5:51 left in the third period to tie the game at 33. The Cougars responded by outscoring the Chargers 23-6 the remainder of the quarter. Kopplin scored his 17 points, including five three pointers, during the run.

“We changed our defense and turned up the intensity,” Kopplin said. “We didn’t let up the rest of the quarter.”

Senior Cameron Agnew led the Cougars with 29 points. “(North Decatur is) our rivals, so this was definitely a game we couldn’t lose,” Agnew said. “We came out after halftime ready to play hard and get serious.”

“Our defensive intensity made the difference tonight,” Black said. “It translated to several open court looks off of defensive efforts. Cameron and Taylor got their looks because we didn’t have to run a half-court set. The intensity carried over and we got open-court shots.”

South Decatur senior Byron Balser contributed 11 points, despite facing foul trouble early in the second half. Hammersmith, Jason Kirkhof, and Zach Johnson led North Decatur with 16 points each.

“The kids did a really good job tonight,” Black said. “I challenged them as a team, and they stepped up and responded. This was a big win for us.”

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