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A Classic comeback
Lady Black Bears rally from early hole for victory
By Justin Graves
The Decatur Daily

Daily photo by Brennen Smith
Austin High’s Tyra Johnson is pressured by Columbia’s Tianna Love at Decatur High on Thursday night.

Still smiling, Takisha Jordan says there was never any doubt.

The Austin High guard’s optimism was warranted.

Austin fell into its deepest first-half hole of the season before Jordan and company rallied back, erasing a 15-point deficit to beat Columbia 58-46 Thursday in the opening round of the Decatur Orthopaedic Clinic Classic.

The Black Bears advance to face Huntsville today at 6:30 p.m.

“We weren’t playing defense the way we’re supposed to and (Columbia) was making every shot they took,” Jordan said. “It was frustrating, but I knew we were capable of coming back. I knew we were going to come back.”

Columbia raced out to a commanding lead early behind the sharpshooting of Jasmynn Batts and Zana Garner. The Columbia guards made several 3-pointers in the opening minutes, helping the Eagles build a 26-11 cushion.

That’s when Austin rallied back.

Austin outscored Columbia 38-17 in the second and third quarters, getting strong play from Jordan and shooting guard Meagan Hamilton.

Hamilton made a 3-pointer midway through the third period to give Austin its first lead of the game, and the Black Bears never trailed again.

The comeback was Austin’s largest of the season.

“I think we played really well during that stretch, especially on defense,” Austin coach Bruce Hamilton said. “We changed a few things up with how we were guarding (Columbia), and our post players did a good job on the boards. Our post players did a good job in the second half. They took away several second-chance opportunities by attacking the glass.”

Jordan paced Austin with 19 points and six rebounds, while Hamilton made four 3-pointers, finishing with 12 points. Tyra Johnson added 10 points for the Black Bears, while Katie Speegle added eight points and 10 rebounds.

Batts finished with 22 points to lead Columbia. The Eagles shot 42.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, but just 16.7 percent after halftime.

“I think we needed that,” Jordan said. “Coming from behind like that, especially against a team we lost to last week, that should be good for our confidence. It was a good win for us.”

Decatur 56, Pope John Paul II 40: With unrelenting full-court pressure, Decatur forced 41 turnovers while wearing PJPII down in the second half.

Decatur advances to face Buckhorn today at 8 p.m.

“Our style of basketball looks a bit chaotic, but that’s what gives us the best chance to win,” Boy said. “We have to get up and down the floor.”

That philosophy held true against PJPII.

Decatur turned up the pressure in the second half, scoring 28 points off turnovers. The Red Raiders used an 18-8 run in the third period to take its first lead of the game, and outscored PJPII 36-14 after halftime.

Constance Steele led Decatur with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Tatyana Jones added 12 points. Taneisha Johnson finished with nine points and seven rebounds.

James Clemens 39, Lawrence County 31: China Leary and Markayla Parker combined for 20 points, leading James Clemens past Lawrence County in the opening round of the DOC Classic.

Lawrence County struggled offensively, shooting just 28.9 percent from the field.

Rachel Childress led Lawrence County with 14 points, while Whitney Woodard added six.

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