Both Decatur teams had resounding regular-season finishes against Towers Friday night at the Decatur High Arena, the girls winning 58-27 and the boys 49-32.
Both played well, particularly in the second half, and both may have found a new weapon or two for next week’s Region 6-AAA tournament, beginning Tuesday at the Decatur Arena.
The boys are 15-10 with a 6-8 regional record and a fifth seed next week. They play Blessed Trinity (fourth seed, 15-10, 7-7 and a 49-34 loser to St. Pius X Friday night) in a first-round game Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
The ninth-ranked girls, 19-6 and 12-2, are a second seed and will play the winner of a Towers-McNair coin flip in the tournament opening game Tuesday at 4 p.m. (The coin flip will be held during a regional coaches meeting later today).
Both teams need to win their opening games to earn a state-tournament berth, with an opening-round defeat ending the season. Two regional-tournament victories for either team guarantee a home game in the opening round of the state tournament.
Additionally, a win Tuesday gives girls coach Bill Roberts his eighth consecutive 20-win season, including the last three at Decatur. Now in his 12th year as a head coach (the first nine at Salem High), Friday was his 238th career victory.
The Lady Bulldogs led only 31-21 with 2:30 left in the third quarter before closing the final 10:30 with a 27-6 run. Jordan Dillard had 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Jayla Morrow and Kori Anderson had nine points each, while Alana Johnson had 11 rebounds.
But 5-8 freshman Kierra Edge, who’s played very little most of the season, scored six points Frida
Kris Munson, a 6-3 junior who joined the team late and spent most of the season getting in shape, scored six points in showing more tenacity in the low post than she’s demonstrated all year.
“Both of those girls could be huge for us next week,” Roberts said. “Kierra’s quick and athletic, and Kristen’s really improving her offensive skills. I think our team is almost there. We want to get that home court advantage [in the state tournament’s first round], which I think will get us over the hump.”
In the past two seasons Decatur’s had to travel more than two hours for first-round games, only to lose each time. Last season the Lady Bulldogs ended the season with three consecutive defeats.
The boys also finished with a flourish. Coach Charlie Copp closed the game with an unusual rotation of seniors Brett Riley, Cordele Jackson, Charlie Shew and Kendall Ford, along with junior Adarius Lucas, the same five who started the game.
That quintet played with intensity seldom been seen from the Bulldogs this year, or as Copp said, “those guys really flowed together.”
They scored 41 of their team’s 49 points, with Jackson getting a game-high 13 while Shew, Ford and Riley had eight apiece. Lucas, a 6-0 shooting guard, had four points and a game-high nine rebounds. Davante Meadows came off the bench to add eight points and eight rebounds.
But Shew, who’s played very little this season, may have been the most impressive of the lot, proving again Friday he’s by far the best pure shooter on a shooting-challenged team. He’s scored only 31 points this season, but 20 of those have come in two of the last three games (he played very little on Tuesday against Cedar Grove).
“He runs the floor hard, he’s in the right spot at the right time, and yes he can shoot the ball,” Copp said. “He definitely could be an important player for us next week.”
Decatur did shoot 43 percent from the floor (23 for 54), but still only 2 for 13 in threes, and Shew had one of those. The Bulldogs also had 39 team rebounds, 11 assists and a still-too-high 18 turnovers.