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Decatur High's Demarrius Goode (3) takes a charge from Hartselle's Jackson Holmes, while Decatur's Mark Mason moves in on defense. Decatur won the Friday contest 65-59.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Decatur High's Demarrius Goode (3) takes a charge from Hartselle's Jackson Holmes, while Decatur's Mark Mason moves in on defense. Decatur won the Friday contest 65-59.

4th-quarter difference
Decatur pulls away behind Pickett

By Brooke Milam 340-2460

Through three quarters of the boys basketball game at Decatur High on Friday night, the Hartselle Tigers had the pace of the game just where they wanted it.

As a result, the Tigers found themselves leading the Class 5A No. 4 Red Raiders going into the final period.

But in the fourth quarter, Decatur found its groove, the lead and the win.

Decatur's boys team beat Hartselle 65-59 behind a brilliant fourth-quarter effort, completing the come-from-behind victory.

"We have a pace we have to play, and we kept it at that pace for a while," Hartselle coach Johnny Berry said.

Hartselle's boys led early, ahead 17-8 at the end of the first quarter and by as many as 24-11 midway through the second period after a 3-pointer by Alex Brown.

However, 15 straight points for Decatur, capped by a Rico Pickett basket, put the Red Raiders up 26-24 with a minute to play in the first half.

But free throws by Hartselle's Tyler Young tied the score at 26 at halftime.

"I knew they played Muscle Shoals really close on Tuesday night and that it was going to be one of those kinds of games tonight," Decatur coach Jamie Lee said.

Decatur (13-4) and Hartselle (9-11) traded baskets to open the second half before a 3-point play by Pickett midway through the third quarter gave the Red Raiders a 39-33 lead.

Pickett picked up his fourth foul seconds later with 3:27 to go in the third.

With Pickett on the bench, Hartselle led 45-44 going into the fourth.

"Our biggest thing was not to let them control the pace of the game, but I also told our guys that if Hartselle is able to control the pace then we have to play that way," Lee said.

His Red Raiders did just that, adjusting to the Tigers' game plan and taking over in the fourth.

Pickett re-entered the game with 5:42 left to play as his team was mounting a comeback. A Mark Mason basket from Rishard Tapscott gave Decatur a 47-46 lead with 3:23 left in the game, beginning an 9-0 run that kept the Red Raiders ahead rest of the way.

"We didn't make the plays we had to make at critical times," Berry said. "Jamie (Lee) has a good basketball team — a great basketball team — but I hope people don't overlook what a great job he's doing with them because that has a lot to do with it, too."

Pickett finished with 24 points, four rebounds and nine assists.

Teammate Mark Mason tossed in 18 points, and Jarodiaus Willingham had 15 points and grabbed four rebounds.

For Hartselle, Jackson Holmes had 21 points and pulled down five rebounds, while Wesley Clemons scored 14.

Berry said his team was disappointed after having the Red Raiders down for most of the contest, but added that "no one in that locker room is hanging their head. They see something now. They see the positives that they can take from this."

Hartselle girls 59, Decatur 25: With Class 5A No. 2 Hartselle coming to visit, Decatur coach Brad Boy said he knew his team had its work cut out.

And the Lady Tigers did not disappoint.

"Hartselle is without a doubt one of the top teams in the state, regardless of classification," Boy said. "There is no shame in losing to Hartselle. The only shame would be if we gave up, and we didn't."

It marked Decatur's seventh loss to a ranked opponent, but Boy said he got good effort from his Lady Red Raiders through the entire contest.

Hartselle coach Greg Adams said his team has responded well to its top ranking and has used it as motivation to continue its upward swing.

"We've committed ourselves to coming out, whether it's a game or practice, and getting better," Adams said. "I've been pleased with our mental aspect of it. Since we recommitted ourselves at the first of December, we've been sound."

After what Boy said was "a decent first quarter" for his team, Decatur trailed 13-8 after the opening period.

But Hartselle's shooting was on, and it proved deadly. The Lady Tigers connected on 50 percent of its shots from the field.

"With Hartselle's guards shooting well, they have no real weakness," Boy said.

The hot shooting helped the Lady Tigers to a 36-16 lead at halftime and a 49-22 advantage after three quarters.

For Hartselle (17-3), Lauren Drake led all scorers with 20 points and had a game-high nine rebounds, while teammate Mary Virginia Reeves scored 18 points with four rebounds.

Britney McCloud led Decatur (1-16) in scoring with 10 points.

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