Decatur High blew a 12-point lead but hung on to beat Booker T. Washington 52-48 Tuesday night in a game at the Spike.
In the evening’s opener, Decatur’s girls easily handled Washington 66-22, led by senior Jordan Dillard’s 20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 steals and five assists.
Both the boys and girls remain unbeaten in three games.
On the boys side, senior Cordele Jackson had the best game of his career with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He made eight of 12 shots, most on slashing basket moves, including one right-angle drive in the second half that ended in one-hand dunk.
But Jackson was an exception on this night, for the Bulldogs couldn't convert point-blank baskets. In the first quarter alone, they missed 12 shots inside two feet, a theme that ran through the entire game.
“The good news is, we got the shots we wanted,” said Decatur coach Charlie Copp. “But we haven’t done a lot of posting up the last two years, and it’s still a learning process. Our guys have got to learn where they are around the post, then find a good angle and finish the shot with their eyes on basket.
“I know it sounds easy, and it looks like those shots should be easy,” he said. “But for our guys [making interior shots] is a learning process and we will get better.”
Decatur opened the second quarter with six straight points to take a 9-8 lead, but went into the locker room tied 22-22 at halftime.
Decatur then took control in the second half. When Jackson stuck in a missed shot 10 seconds into the third quarter, Decatur led 24-22 and would never trail again.
Senior post Brett Riley, who couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half, scored all eight of his points in the second, while finishing with nine rebounds. Davante Meadows also had nine rebounds but only four points, missing short drives and easy jumpers he normally makes in his sleep.
The most pleasant surprise on this night was reserve point guard Devontae Carter – the football team’s quarterback – who scored six points in receiving the most minutes of his young career.
Decatur led by 12 with about three minutes left, but Washington cut it to 51-48 with 32 seconds left. After a Decatur turnover against the press, Washington actually had a chance to tie before a steal by Meadows. That led to a free throw from Murad Dillard with 3.5 seconds left to seal the deal.
Decatur won despite not hitting a three pointer and despite drawing only two charges, indicative of the Bulldogs futility at guarding a quicker Washington team.
“Our defense has to get better,” Copp said. “We’ve got to do a better job of moving our feet and keeping our hands off [the opponent]. Once again, it’s a learning process.”
Washington, which is rebuilding after advancing to last year’s AAA Final Four, is 1-3.
Meantime the girls coasted on a night where they never trailed. Freshman phenoms Jayla Morrow and Kayla Thomas had big nights coming off the bench, with 13 and eight points respectively, with Thomas adding nine rebounds.
Sophmore Jahmee Reeves came off the bench to score 10 points, while Kori Anderson added nine. The Bulldogs shot 33 for 56 from the field for 60 percent while Washington was 8 for 36 for 22 percent.
On Thursday it gets tougher for both teams with the Bulldogs playing at former regional rival Greater Atlanta Christian, whose girls team is 3-1. The 3-0 boys had three very impressive victories in last week’s Parkview tourney. The girls play at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30 p.m. in games that had originally been scheduled for Friday.