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Luke Ward dribbles around Decatur’s Jaylen Brown in the Tigers’ 70-34 win over the Red Raiders. Special to the Enquirer/Mariann Parker

Ward’s double-double leads Tigers to 70-34 win over Decatur

Last Friday, Luke Ward’s double-double led Hartselle to a 70-34 win over rival Decatur. The Tigers improved to 3-1 in area play following the win.

Ward finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead Hartselle.

“I am proud of the way Luke bounced back tonight,” said Hartselle coach Faron Key. “He has gotten off to a slow start in area play before tonight. But, once we saw he had the hot hand, we continued to go to him.

Ward started the game with a three-pointer to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. He finished with five points in the quarter. Kiah Key scored eight points to lead Hartselle. Decatur hit three three-pointers to help tie the game at 13-13, heading into the second quarter.

The Tigers opened the quarter on an 8-4 run to grab a 21-17 lead. Thomas Itsede scored four to power the run. Hartselle closed the quarter with a 9-0 run that included Ryland Smothers’ first basket in the last 14 games. He missed the previous 13 games with an injury suffered in the loss to Austin in December. The Tigers took a 30-17 lead into halftime.

Hartselle kept the pressure on in the third quarter as they outscored the Red Raiders 27-11. The Tigers opened the quarter on a 9-0 run that included seven points from Ward. Decatur responded with a 9-2 run to cut the Hartselle lead to 41-26. The Tigers responded with a 16-2 run to close the quarter and extend their lead to 57-28, heading into the fourth quarter. Ward led six Tigers in scoring with 10 in the quarter.

The Tigers outscored the Red Raiders 13-6 in the final quarter, played with a running clock. Ward hit his fourth three-pointer of the game before exiting. Hartselle finished the game with an 8-1 run to make the final score 70-34.

“I am proud of the guy’s effort tonight,” said Key. “We bounced back in a big way after not playing well the other night at Muscle Shoals.”

Itsede added a career-high 14 points for Hartselle (13-10, 3-1). Kiah Key finished with 10 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Kohl Key and Smothers each finished with seven.

Isaiah Slaughter and Stephen Mayfield each finished with eight points for Decatur (10-13, 0-3).

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