(March 6, 2020) The Stephen Decatur girls’ basketball team started off strong against the James M. Bennett Clippers during Monday’s 3A South Region II semifinals, but the Seahawks were unable to maintain that momentum and lost the game, 66-57.
“We knew where we wanted to attack and our shots were falling. We came out strong,” said Decatur Coach Scott Kurtz. “All cylinders were firing. They sat back and we were able to run our offense.”
Third-seeded Decatur led 22-18 at the end of the first quarter. Bennett, the No. 2 seed, pulled ahead in the second quarter and at halftime, the home team was on top, 36-32.
The Clippers held a 50-44 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
The Seahawks kept it close in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t pull ahead.
“We were right there at the end, we just came up a bit short,” Kurtz said.
Sophomore Nadia Bullock led Decatur with 23 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Freshman Mayah Garner chipped in with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Senior captain Sarah Engle recorded eight points, six rebounds and five assists.
“There were moments in the game where I thought we played the best basketball we played all year,” Kurtz said. “So no matter how it played out, I couldn’t be upset. The girls worked hard and they worked together.”
Decatur advanced to the semifinal round after its 64-45 victory over the sixth-seeded Northeast Eagles of Anne Arundel last Friday in Berlin.
The Eagles led 10-8 at the end of the first quarter. The Seahawks went into the halftime break ahead, 24-22.
“The first half we played them pretty tight. It was a close game,” Kurtz said. “We made some defensive adjustment, we made some offensive adjustments and the third quarter was huge.”
Decatur outscored Northeast 24-10 in the third quarter.
“The girls just took care of the basketball, they stopped turning the ball over, they trusted each other, we got it into our bigs [down low under the basket] and they attacked and stayed hungry,” Kurtz said. “The second half we took the wind out of their sails and we were soaring.”
Decatur finished the season with a 15-7 record. With a tough schedule this year, Kurtz said his team’s record was impressive.
“I feel like we really did overachieve,” Kurtz said.
The Seahawks beat some teams they topped last year, but by larger margins and they earned victories over a few they lost to previously. In addition, Kurtz said his group played better against the top Bayside Conference teams this season.
Having Aaron Wyatt as an assistant coach this year was a big advantage, he added. Kurtz said he was a great motivator and he helped the girls skill-wise and scheme-wise.
“He helped elevate the team. He helped get the best out of these girls,” he said.
The team will graduate four players, but Kurtz has a core, talented group returning to build on for next season.