Daily photo by GaryCosby Jr.|
Muscle Shoals' Adrian McCord, left, and Decatur's Jarodiaus Willingham battle for a ball on the floor.
Raiders polish off Shoals
Decatur doesn't allow Trojans back into game
Decatur High's boys basketball team is off to a great start this season, but its main goal is a great finish.
The same philosophy applied in Tuesday night's Class 5A, Area 16 contest with Muscle Shoals.
Off to an early lead, Decatur aimed to finish the task, and the Red Raiders did just that, beating the visiting Trojans 71-60 in its first area game of the season. Along the way, Decatur (8-2) protected late its double-digit lead.
"We finished better than we have the past two weeks," Decatur coach Jamie Lee said. "Definitely played better down the stretch than we have the last two weeks."
The fourth quarter has proven a stumbling block for the Red Raiders, and while they've dropped only two games, Decatur has had several games where it led early but watched its opponent come closer at the end than Lee would have liked.
"That was a concern, but at the same time I could see something different in their eyes tonight," Lee said.
"We were playing with some enthusiasm and intensity that we haven't in the past two or three games."
Decatur fell to rival Austin on Friday night 59-50 and was eager to show it had more court savvy than what it showed against the Black Bears.
"Mostly because (Tuesday night) was an area game, you want to get ahead in the area early," Decatur senior Mark Mason said. "And after we played against Austin on Friday, we wanted to show everybody how we can turn around and improve and learn from that."
Decatur built a 37-26 halftime lead, which was capped by a thunderous dunk by senior Jarodiaus Willingham in the closing seconds of the opening half.
Muscle Shoals went on a 9-1 run to open the second half, closing the gap to 38-35.
But Decatur regained control of the game fully by the end of the third period with a 48-41 advantage.
The momentum was all Decatur's in the fourth quarter, when Rico Pickett dunked on an ally-oop pass from fellow senior Rishard Tapscott. On the next possession a three-point play by Tapscott increased Decatur's lead to double-digits at 53-41.
Mason led all scorers with 20 points and grabbed five rebounds. Pickett had 15 points, while Willingham scored 14 points and had eight rebounds, and G Redus had a team-high 10 assists.
"Mark Mason probably has his best game to this point," Lee said.
Lee also praised the depth off the bench that seniors Demarrius Goode and Caleb Thomas provided in the first half.
And Lee wasn't the only one that appreciated the efforts of Goode and Thomas.
"Our bench is really important, especially Caleb. He really gets after me and beats me up in practice, and I want to make sure that everybody knows that," Willingham said.
Muscle Shoals' Reed Morgan led the Trojans' scoring with 18 points, followed by Ralston Turner with 17 and Trey Ethridge with 11.
Decatur also beat Muscle Shoals 70-30 in junior varsity action Tuesday night.
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