Austin High grabbed the lead at the start and didn’t look back, topping Decatur 61-30 in the opening round of the Class 6A, Area 16 girls basketball tournament.
"We knew we had to come out strong and play our hardest,” senior point guard Takisha Jordan said. Jordan scored two free throws to start Austin on an 8-0 run in the first quarter, and led first half scorers with 11 points.
After, Aaliyah Fuqua scored from the free-throw line to start another 8-0 run. At half, the Black Bears led 36-15. With a big lead, Austin (21-7) was able to make use of their reserve players, who totaled 19 points.
Freshman center Katie Speegle shined, scoring nine points and eight rebounds, while Diamones Spraggins scored seven points with five rebounds. Tyra Johnson led all scorers with 14 points.
“That’s been an issue all year, creating depth and using people,” Austin coach Bruce Hamilton said. “I appreciate how focused they were when they went in.”
Decatur (7-23) was led by Cormonie Sales, who scored seven points, and Taneshia Johnson, who scored six. The Red Raiders totaled 14 steals and suffered from 21 turnovers.
“For the big picture, I’m proud of the girls because they could have quit a long time ago. Just about every night we step out on the court, we’re outmanned, and that was the case again tonight,” Decatur coach Brad Boy said. “We didn’t give up, and that’s the lesson I want the girls to take from this.” A
Austin plays James Clemens on Monday at 6 p.m. James Clemens beat Florence 44-37 to advance to the finals.
“It means a whole lot, because it’s been a while since we’ve been able to host area and go to the championship,” Jordan said of the win.
Austin has not made a regional tournament appearance since 2006, and has not won the regional tournament since 1994. While Hamilton is anticipating the opportunities could be ahead for Austin in the postseason, for now, he said the main goal is focusing on getting the area win on Monday night.
“We need to win this area,” he said. “We’ve had some tough games with James Clemens. They’re well-coached and ready to play. Hopefully our girls are up to the challenge.”
Contact Meredith Qualls at 256-340-2395 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.