Blessed Trinity’s Patrick Lamar scored a career-high 35 points in leading his team to a decisive 60-45 victory over Decatur Tuesday night in the Decatur High Arena.
The win was important, giving Blessed a one-game lead over Decatur for fourth place in Region 6-AAA. If the standings remain unchanged between now and season’s end, these two teams would meet again in the first round of the region tournament which begins Feb. 12, also at the Decatur High Arena.
In the girls game, Decatur went on a 19-8 third-quarter binge to pull away for 47-41 victory. The Lady Bulldogs are now 15-5 overall and 8-1 regionally, in second place and still one game behind St. Pius X, which thrashed Towers 75-15 Tuesday night.
In the boys game Blessed Trinity, riding its first three-game losing streak since 2006, grabbed control immediately. On the very first possession, working methodically through its spread half-court offense, BT held the ball for 1:15 before Lamar drained a three.
This not only foreshadowed Lamar’s splendid evening, it served warning to Blessed’s ability to get just about any shot it wanted on this night.
“Our defense is what really hurt us,” Decatur coach Charlie Copp said. “We had trouble getting help because they were so spread out, and with [Lamar] we had trouble locating him all night. When they screened for him, we almost always lost him altogether.”
Blessed’s 5-10 point guard hit 14 of 24 shots in compiling the most points by an opponent this season.
Lamar, only a junior, scored 19 points alone in the first half, but his most thrilling moments came in the third quarter.
Decatur trailed by seven (28-21) at halftime and had a chance to get closer with 4:49 left in the third quarter. But Noah Fisher, fouled outside the perimeter, made only 1 of 3 foul shots and the Bulldogs still trailed 33-25.
Over the next 3:25 Lamar scored 11 consecutive points.
On the first of five baskets he took four lefty dribbles (he’s naturally right-handed), cleared space with his right forearm and nailed a 17-footer.
“Beginning when I was a little kid,” Lamar said, “my dad made me walk the dog with him, and I had to dribble left-handed during the whole walk. It seems like I’ve always had [equal facility] with both hands.”
Then he stole the ball and went coast to coast for another basket, went through his legs and hit a 12-footer in the paint, then a three-pointer and then a 10-foot runner that he shot two-handed with total body control.
By the time Lamar finished his one-man gang attack, BT was ahead 44-25 and the only thing in doubt was the final margin.
“Patrick’s one of the most talented kids I’ve ever had here,” said BT coach Brian Marks. “I’ve never had a kid who’s such a perfectionist. Last week we played a double overtime game against St. Pius, and he played 38 of the 40 minutes, and after the game he made me keep the gym open so he could work on his shooting.”
Decatur tried at least three different players to disrupt Lamar’s shooting, to no avail. Meantime, no other BT player had more than six points.
Decatur was led by Adarius Lucas’ 12 points, while Cordele Jackson and Davonte Meadows had only 9 and 8 points respectively. The Bulldogs made 15 of 54 shots from the floor for 28 percent, including 7 for 29 (24 percent) in three pointers, most of which were wide open looks right on the line.
Decatur now drops to 12-8 and 3-6, and still needs one more victory to equal last season’s total of 13.
The Lady Bulldogs trailed 18-16 at halftime. But Coach Bill Roberts abandoned zones in the third quarter and went man-to-man for the first time in weeks to quick-start the tempo.
Jordan Dillard finished with 24 points and six rebounds while freshman Jayla Morrow had 13 points. But Roberts credited sophomore Jahmee Reeves with sparking the team with four steals, all in the second half. Reeves, like her sister and current Jacksonville University starter Queen Alford, was born to play the up-tempo pressure game.
And defense definitely won this one in overcoming the Lady Bulldogs’ very poor shooting, 26 percent from the field (18 for 68) and 30 percent (6 for 20) from the foul line.
Decatur plays again Friday at home against McNair, the girls at 5:30 p.m. and the boys at 7 p.m.