BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s boys’ varsity basketball team overcame jumped out to an early lead over Bennett at home on Tuesday, overcame a big run by the Clippers and eventually pulled away for a 63-54 win to improve to 8-1 in the Bayside Conference.
The Seahawks entered Tuesday’s home game with a tenuous hold on first place in the Bayside South and needed a win over pesky Bennett to hold on to the top spot in the conference. From the outset, it appeared Decatur would have no problem with the Clippers, but needed a big pick-me-up from star guard Cedric Johnson in the second quarter to take control of the contest.
Decatur led 4-2 after the first few minutes of the first quarter and extended the lead to 11-2 with a 7-0 run midway through the period. During the early stretch, the Seahawks were aggressive on defense, which created some easy scoring opportunities on the offensive end.
However, Bennett took advantage of a flat stretch for the Seahawks late in the first quarter to get back in the game. The Clippers scored six unanswered points with less than a minute left in the period to cut the Decatur lead to 11-8, the last three coming on a long three-pointer with eight seconds left.
Bennett continued its hot streak in the second quarter. Less than a minute into the period, the Clippers hit another big three-pointer at the 7:26 mark to tie the game at 11-11. After getting off to a quick start, the Seahawks struggled offensively with a scoring drought that went back to the middle of the first quarter.
After a steal and an easy lay-up, Bennett took its first lead of the game at 13-11 with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. Seconds later, the Clippers completed its 11-0 run that spanned the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter to push the lead to 15-11 with 5:58 remaining in the half.
However, the Seahawks quickly regrouped with a mini-run of their own to end the scoring drought and re-establish some continuity, thanks in large part to Johnson, who scored on a put-back to cut the lead to 13-11. Seconds later, Johnson scored again to tie the game at 15-15 with 4:20 remaining in the first half.
After a Bennett free throw put the Clippers back on top at 16-15, Decatur’s Montre Andrews scored on a put back to put the Seahawks back on top. Johnson then went on a tear, scoring the last six points of the second quarter to extend Decatur’s lead to 23-16 at the intermission. In the waning seconds of the second quarter, Johnson dribbled patiently on the perimeter before hitting a runner in the paint as time expired to complete the 12-1 run by the Seahawks to close out the first half.
After taking 15-11 lead early in the second, Bennett scored just one more point in the period as Decatur turned up the defense and created scoring opportunities off of turnovers. The pattern continued in the third quarter as Decatur pressured every pass and shot, creating three straight turnovers that led to easy baskets. From that point on, there was no looking back for Decatur, which cruised to the 63-54 win/
The win on Tuesday improved Decatur’s record to 11-2 overall, including an 8-1 mark in the conference.