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Hartselle Enquirer
Ryan Dunn scores two of his career-high 26 points in Hartselle's 54-45 win over Decatur. Enquirer photo by Jim Meadows.

Dunn leads Tigers to comeback win over visiting Decatur

HARTSELLE – Ryan Dunn scored a career-high 26 points and led the Tigers to a fourth-quarter rally that turned Decatur’s eight-point lead into a nine-point victory for Hartselle.

“I am proud of how the team fought tonight,” Hartselle coach Faron Key said. “We didn’t play very well overall, but we stepped up and closed the deal when we needed to.”

Dunn and Smothers each scored two baskets in the game’s first three and a half minutes to give the Tigers an 8-2 lead. However, Decatur responded with a 13-3 run to close the first quarter. The Red Raiders to a 15-11 lead into the second quarter.

After Decatur extended their lead to 17-11 to start the quarter, Dunn scored four points to cut the deficit to 17-15. The Red Raiders reeled off six straight points to push their lead to 23-15 with 2:27 left before halftime. Kohl Key’s basket ended the Decatur run and made the score 23-17. Decatur responded with a three-pointer, taking a 26-17 lead into halftime.

Smothers opened the third quarter with a bucket to cut the lead to 26-19 just 15 seconds into the third quarter. Decatur controlled the pace throughout the game, especially at the start of the third quarter. Key cut the Red Raiders’ lead to 26-22 with a deep three-pointer midway through the quarter. Decatur extended their lead to 29-24 over the next couple of minutes before a Dunn basket cut the lead back to three, 29-26. The Red Raiders outscored Hartselle 7-5 over the final couple of minutes of the third quarter to take a 36-31 lead into the fourth quarter.

Decatur opened the final quarter with a 7-2 run to extend their lead to 43-35 with 4:42 remaining. Key ended the Red Raiders’ run with a three-pointer that started the Tigers’ fourth-quarter comeback. Dunn then added a basket and a free throw to cut the Decatur lead to 43-41 with 2:43 left. After a missed front end of a one & one by Decatur, Dunn responded with the biggest shot of the game, a three-pointer from about 23 feet, to give the Tigers their first lead since early in the first quarter. Thomas Itsede made a steal near mid-court and drove for a basket, and he was fouled. His free throw extended the Hartselle lead to 47-43 with 1:45 left. Key then made three of four free throws to push the lead to 50-43, the Tigers’ largest lead of the game. After a Decatur basket cut the lead to 50-45 with 30.8 left, Dunn and Key, each hit two free throws to make the final score 54-45.

“I challenged the team at halftime to play better in the second half,” Key said. “They showed in the fourth quarter what they are capable of, and that got us the win.”

Dunn finished with 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line to lead Hartselle (11-9, 1-1).

“I tried to do what I needed to do tonight to help my team win. But I could not have done this without them,” Dunn said. “We were tough enough and did enough to get the win.”

Kohl Key added 14 points and four rebounds, while Smothers had six points. Kiah Key had six rebounds and two blocks. Markus Tapscott added three points and two blocks.

Ellis Dickman led Decatur (9-9, 0-1) with 16 points and Jayden Brown added nine.

Hartselle will travel to East Limestone on Thursday and then to Muscle Shoals on Friday. Decatur will host Cullman on Friday.