FOR THE TRIBUNE
Trinity Lutheran’s boys basketball team got off to a slow start but defeated South Decatur 58-44 at the Bollinger Athletic Complex on Tuesday in the season-opener.
Both Trinity and South Decatur started the first game of the season slow, as the first quarter ended with South Decatur up 6-5. In fact, the game was scoreless until the 4:21 mark, when South Decatur’s Nick Benge scored a layup.
The second quarter looked as though South Decatur was going to establish a rhythm as it began with a 5-0 run, but the quarter ended with Trinity going on a 12-0 run to bring the halftime score to 17-11.
The second half started with Trinity senior Daniel Horton making three quick layups.
The Cougars then turned up the energy when senior Luke Onken made five points in 9 seconds as he made a jump shot under the basket, stole the ball on the South Decatur inbound and made a three pointer.
Trinity coach Aaron Rudzinski said the moment was big for the team.
“That was a very inspiring moment for our team, as that kind of triggered them and energized the team to expand the lead a little bit,” he said.
Horton added eight points in the third quarter and Trinity outscored South Decatur 23-10 to close the quarter with a 40-21 lead.
South Decatur outscored Trinity 23-18 in the fourth quarter, but the deficit its faced was too much as the Cougars couldn’t keep up with Horton’s eight-point quarter.
Trinity also used a full-court press in the second half to help keep South Decatur’s offense at bay. Trinity ended the game on an 6-0 run.
Horton said after the game that he was happy the team came away with the win and gave credit to his teammates for helping him get open looks.
“My teammates passed me the ball, and I was able to just get some good looks in there, and it was just a good game tonight for the team,” he said. “We didn’t play as good as we thought we would tonight, but it was good to come out with a win.”
Rudzinski said the team didn’t play its best game but was able to overcome missing shots early and not getting good opportunities. Rudzinski said he thought some of it had to do with nerves.
“They came out energized, but we started slow and it’s the first game of the year. In fact we had a couple guys try to check into the game without going to the score table, so it was a little bit of first-game jitters, but we have to play better,” he said.
“We were shooting poorly to start the game, and one of the things we talked about on the bench was that we were shooting poorly but still in the game, and we knew we were a better team, and we just had to figure out how to get more passion out there and get some good shots. We knew the shots would start to fall.”
Rudzinski said the game showed that the team needed to work on its shooting and slowing the pace of the game.
“I think the main story here tonight is that we were able to make just enough plays to win and make just enough shots to win, but at the same time we didn’t shoot well during the game — overall — but that’s just something we have to work on,” he said.
Horton led Trinity with a double-double, posting 20 points and 12 rebounds.