Shawe’s Taylor Rhoten (left) goes to the basket over several South Decatur defenders during Friday’s sectional semifinal loss. The Hilltoppers rallied from 13 points down to force overtime before falling 54-53.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Staff photo by David Campbell)
Shawe’s Taylor Rhoten (left) goes to the basket over several South Decatur defenders during Friday’s sectional semifinal loss. The Hilltoppers rallied from 13 points down to force overtime before falling 54-53.

(Staff photo by David Campbell)
WESTPORT - Looking down and out early on, Shawe Memorial fought back for three quarters only to be denied by South Decatur 54-53 in overtime on Friday night in the Class A sectional semifinal.

Shawe turned a 19-6 first-quarter deficit into a 37-35 lead in the fourth quarter on the backs of seniors David Grote, who led the team with 22 points, and Taylor Rhoten, who had 17.

But the Cougars used timely threes, clutch free throws and some crafty plays from senior Cameron Agnew to knock out the Hilltoppers.

With his team down one point with 12 seconds remaining in OT, Agnew connected on a tricky layup in the crowded paint to put the Cougars ahead for good.

He led the Cougars with 16 points and accounted for seven of the Cougars' 10 points in overtime, including a three-point play on a foul and made free-throw shot.

Agnew's winning shot left the Hilltoppers with 3.4 seconds to work with. Joey Mingione drove all the way down inside the 3-point arc but missed a good-look jumper as the final buzzer sounded.

The semifinal game served as a sequel to a dramatic regular-season matchup in which South Decatur knocked off the Hilltoppers with a last-second shot at the buzzer.

While the game carried the same amount of drama, unfortunately for Shawe, it yielded the same result.

"At the end of the day, they just made a couple more plays down the stretch than we did," Shawe coach Matt Traylor said. "I thought we played as hard as we could have played."

With the win, tonight South Decatur will meet Jac-Cen-Del, who knocked off Rising Sun 54-50 in overtime on Friday, in the championship tonight.

Byron Balser had 15 points for the Cougars, including six crucial points near the end of the fourth quarter, which helped push the game into overtime.

For Shawe, Grote was the man behind the comeback in the second quarter, and as he heated up, Rhoten later joined in during the second half.

After a desperation half-court launch by South Decatur at the first-quarter buzzer was ruled a basket - much to the dismay of the Shawe bench - the Cougars found themselves in foul trouble early in the second quarter. They committed 10 team fouls in the first half, and they added a few missed treys on quick possessions to allow the Hilltoppers to crawl back into the game.

Grote netted two quick 3-pointers from nearly the exact same spot on the right side of the arc late in the second period to cut the deficit to four, 24-20, suddenly making it a contest.

Rhoten ignited behind Grote, scoring 14 points between the second half and overtime. He also gave Shawe the lead in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter -the Hilltoppers' first lead since scoring the first bucket of the game - with some muscle work in the paint.

The assault continued when Rhoten backed in another bucket in the paint and senior Joey Mingione followed with two points on a strong drive to make it 42-38 Hilltoppers with just over four minutes remaining in regulation.

It was the Hilltoppers' biggest lead of the contest, but it wouldn't last.

Balser quickly hit a three to cut Shawe's lead to one, 42-41. And after a successful baseline drive by Mingione, Balser was fouled during a 3-point attempt and made every free throw to tie the game at 44-44 and send it into overtime.

Balser then went on to launch an NBA three in OT to give the Cougars a quick lead before South Decatur shut the door in the final seconds.

Traylor said he was pleased the way his team carried a no-quit attitude to the final buzzer.

"They made a conscious decision that they weren't just going to roll over," Traylor said, noting the first-half comeback. "They fought and fought, and I thought, played pretty well.

"It's just one or two plays that we'd like to have back."

With the loss, Shawe says goon-bye to nine seniors, including its entire starting lineup.

"It's a little disappointing to see this group of seniors go," Traylor said. "It's a pretty unique, special group. I've really enjoyed them."



at Westport



SOUTH DECATUR 19 6 10 9 10 - 54

SHAWE 6 16 13 9 9 - 53

SOUTH DECATUR (15-6) - (g)Agnew 16, (f)Balser 15, (f)Kopplin 13, (c)Miller 9, Johanningman 1, (g)Hatton 0, Wullenwebber 0.

SHAWE (9-13) - (g)Grote 23, (f)Rhoten 17, (g)Mingione 10, (f)Daugherty 3, Higgins 1, Jines 0, Rios 0.

3-Point Goals - South Decatur 7 (Kopplin 4, Balser 2, Agnew 1), Shawe 4 (Grote 4). Total Fouls - South Decatur 17, Shawe 14. Free Throws - South Decatur 11-20 (55%), Shawe 9-15 (60%). Fouled Out - South Decatur: Miller. Next Game - Shawe's season ends. South Decatur hosts Jac-Cen-Del in the championship game tonight.