Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Decatur's Whitney Fletcher, right, keeps a rebound safe from Muscle Shoals defender Jasmine Hammon.
Finding the winners' circle
It takes overtime, but Decatur girls pull off first victory of the year
By Brooke Milam
Preparing for exams later this week, Decatur High's girls and boys basketball teams passed their first Class 5A, Area 16 tests of the season Tuesday night, hosting Muscle Shoals.
Decatur's girls got their first victory of the season with a 50-48 win in overtime, and the Decatur boys took a 71-60 win in the nightcap.
With the wins, the Lady Red Raiders improved to 1-8 overall, while the Red Raiders' boys are now 8-2, and both teams are 1-0 in the area.
"I'm really happy for the girls," Lady Red Raiders coach Brad Boy said. "To have a start to the season like we had — you're going to take some heat. I think we feel like, collectively as a team, a burden has been lifted off our shoulders."
Decatur sophomore Shannon Laughlin put back a rebound with 30 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 46-46 and force an extra period. Then in overtime, Ashley Henderson's basket with 37 seconds left broke a 48-48 tie.
"It felt different out there tonight — it felt like everything was coming together," Henderson said. "We were all excited because we were in the game and wanted to win this one so bad."
Boy said he liked his team's chances coming into Tuesday's game and said much of credit for the game preparation goes to assistant coaches Morgan Coulter and Mark Christopher.
"I felt good about our matchups, and I've got to give a lot of the credit to my assistants who did a lot of work getting game films and putting in a lot of time this weekend studying those," Boy said.
Boy said he told his players that rebounding would be important in the game's outcome, and he was exactly right.
His Lady Red Raiders outrebounded the Lady Trojans 42-39 — a margin as slim as the final score.
"We said if you weren't going to rebound, you weren't going to play," Boy said.
And Laughlin responded in the second half. Laughlin's nine rebounds tied for a team high with fellow sophomore Whitney Fletcher.
"We got after Shannon, and she really came on strong after halftime," Boy said.
Freshman Britney McCloud led Decatur in scoring with 12 points.
Fletcher followed with 11 points, and Laughlin had 10.
Henderson's six assists also marked a team high for Decatur, and Fletcher and sophomore Ashley Witherspoon each had three steals.
Decatur led 17-8 after the first quarter, but inexperienced at playing with a lead, the Lady Red Raiders faltered in the second. Muscle Shoals outscored Decatur 20-5 in the second for a 28-22 halftime lead.
"In the second quarter we did a lot of compounding mistakes," Boy said.
Decatur went back up 34-33 with 2:32 left in the third quarter on a basket by McCloud, which was assisted by Henderson.
The Lady Red Raiders led 38-35 going into the final period.
After Laughlin's all-important rebound and putback just before the end of regulation, and Henderson's big overtime basket, Decatur had reason to celebrate.
"No matter what our (overall) record is, we're in first place in the area right now," Boy said. "And come tournament time when you're in a one-game situation, who knows what can happen?"
For Muscle Shoals, Kathryn Thompson and Jasmine Hammon each had 16 points to lead all scorers.
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