ATHENS — Athens High basketball saved its best quarter for last against Decatur on Tuesday night.
Trailing by five, the Golden Eagles opened up the final period with a 14-0 run to steal a 75-67 win at home.
Athens outscored Decatur 25-11 in the fourth quarter with senior Kennan Hambrick scoring 10 of his 11 points during that span.
“We wanted to score most of our points in the paint,” Athens coach Stace Tedford said. “In the first half, we shot a lot of 3-pointers. That’s not what we wanted. We really played better in the paint in the second half.”
Athens’ comeback was a product of its size advantage. Hambrick had huge dunks during that stretch that helped energize the crowd.
Along with Hambrick, senior Braden Gross helped get Athens (4-2) easy baskets inside. He finished with a game-high 16 points for Athens.
“Braden Gross got it all started,” Tedford said. “He absolutely took over on the glass for us.”
Decatur held a slight edge over Athens in the first three periods. It was tied 15-15 after one. Decatur then used a 10-0 run to create some separation.
Athens charged back and made it a four-point game heading into halftime. Decatur stretched its lead to as many as eight in the third before Athens completely took over in the final eight minutes.
“We kept them from getting to the rim a lot in the first three quarters,” Decatur coach Sam Brown said. “That’s why we had success early. They were able to get it to the rim in the fourth quarter.”
Athens had five players in double figures. Antonio Shoulders scored 10 points and kickstarted the 14-0 run in the fourth. Sophomore Jaden Jude had 13 points. Senior Tokie Porter added 11 points.
Senior Smith Coon led Decatur with a game-high 24 points. Junior Shawn Hullett added 11 points.
Decatur travels to Austin next in its first meeting with its cross-town rivals Friday. Decatur won one of its two meetings against the Black Bears last season.
Athens goes on the road to Hartselle for its next game.
Athens girls 63, Decatur 33: Athens held Decatur to two points in the second quarter to run away with the win. The Red Raiders trailed 15-13 after the first but went cold. They scored more points in the first quarter (13) than in the second and third quarters combined (11).
Athens led 35-15 at halftime and 47-24 after three. It went on a 20-0 run in the second quarter. Junior Talyiah McDonald posted 11 points. Sophomore Caroline Bachus scored 11 points. Junior Nahriyah Timmons and Senior Alaina Taylor both had 10 points.
Decatur sophomore Whitley Chapman turned in a game-high 19 points.
Athens improves to 7-2 while Decatur drops to 0-8.