WESTPORT — Harassing team defense and the one-two offensive punch of Byron Balser and Taylor Kopplin helped propel South Decatur’s boys past North Decatur 60-44 on Friday as the Cougars remained unbeaten at 3-0 and kept the visiting Chargers winless at 0-3.
Both teams opened in county-rivalry style, going toe-to-toe on both ends of the court and battling hard for every rebound and loose ball.
It was the Chargers who took the lead early, 11-8, after the opening frame, but an 11-0 run by the hosts late in the second period put momentum on their side and they were able to ride it to the end of the game.
Trailing 20-17 with 2:35 remaining in the second quarter, South Decatur knotted the action moments later when Kopplin knocked down a 3-pointer of a pass from Balser.
The 5-foot-11 junior connected on another bomb less than a minute later, and Balser followed with a layup at the 1:06 mark to put the Cougars up 25-20.
Balser, who led South Decatur with 22 points, then ripped down a rebound, which eventually wound up in the hands of Kopplin, who drove the lane with a twisting lay-in.
Also fouled on the play, Kopplin drained the freebie to close out the spurt with nine points. He finished the game with 19 points.
“North Decatur was the best team we’ve played so far,” said Cougars coach Tom Black. “It’s a nice win, but I can tell you we still have many things to work on and get better at doing.”
The Chargers, playing their third-straight road battle, drilled a trio of triples in the third period, but still found themselves on the short end heading into the final stanza.
Turnovers and too many missed inside shots also hurt the guests, who were paced by 6-2 senior John Hammersmith.
It was Hammersmith’s four-straight points at the opening of the fourth frame that pulled his team to within seven at 49-42, but South would go on another run — this time a 10-0 spurt to — extinguish any thoughts North might have had about a comeback.