The Decatur High boys bounced back from an embarrassing performance earlier in the week to defeat McNair 63-45 Friday night at the Decatur High Arena.
With just four games left before the regional tournament, Decatur improved to 13-8, equaling its victory total for all last season.
Still, it’s been a Jekyll-Hyde week for the Bulldogs, who played one of their better games Jan. 18 at Woodward, before being painfully embarrassed on their home court by Blessed Trinity Tuesday. That was the same Blessed Trinity team that lost by a point one week ago to McNair.
And for a half, Friday’s McNair-Decatur contest was played with hardly any breathing space, the two teams tied 25 at intermission.
In the second half Decatur coach Charlie Copp, a diehard man-to-man coach, began mixing in a zone defense for the first time all year. Essentially it appeared to be a 1-3-1, an archaic zone in some respects, particularly popular in the 1950s and 60s.
But the 1-3-1 ensures there’s always someone deep to prevent, or at least disturb layups and short jumpers, something that’s haunted Decatur all season.
“We definitely haven’t played Decaturesque defense,” Copp said. “We’ve especially [been vulnerable] to quick teams, and we’ve allowed way too much easy penetration. After [Blessed Trinity] we had to make [defensive] changes.
“I’m not sure how much zone we’ll play from here on,” he said. “But it takes time off the clock and it forces [the opponent] to make adjustments.”
Mixing defenses and also, conveniently, shooting 62 percent in the third quarter, Decatur went on a 19-6 tear to largely put this one way. Copp said he used zone “only about five percent” of game, though it sure appeared a lot more prevalent, and definitely effective.
Despite getting 17 points from 5-foot-9, lightning-quick Albert Ross, the second straight game an opponent’s point guard has done a credible Jerry West imitation, the Bulldogs nearly doubled up on McNair, 38-20, in the second half.
Murad Dillard and Cordele Jackson scored 22 and 20 points respectively. Dillard scored 10 in the third quarter while Jackson had 11 in the fourth. It was the first time this season Decatur’s had two players score 20-plus points in the same game.
Decatur shot 39 percent from the floor (21 of 52), which is exactly its season’s average. But against McNair the Bulldogs hit 6 of 14 threes, 42 percent, or 18 percentage points higher than the seasonal norm. Additionally the team committed a season’s-low nine turnovers.
In Friday’s first game Decatur’s girls won 62-16 holding McNair to single digits in every quarter, as the visiting team shot only 15 percent (7 of 45) from the floor.
Coach Bill Roberts played all 14 players available, with Jordan Dillard leading with 13 points, while Jayla Morrow had 9 and Jahmee Reeves had 8 points and 6 rebounds
This sets up a 6 p.m. showdown at St. Pius X Tuesday, with the boys playing at 7:30 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs are 16-5 and 9-1 in Region 6-AAA, in second place and one game behind 10-0 Pius. The Pius boys are 15-5 and 8-2.
On Jan. 12, Pius won both games, the girls 50-37 and the boys 62-48.