Decatur rebounds from loss Brewer can't slow transition attack
By Bradley Handwerger
email@example.com · 340-2462
Three days after Decatur, the third-ranked team in Class 5A, stumbled against 2A No. 7 Tanner, ending a nine-game win streak, the Red Raiders put that upset behind them.
For Brewer, that wasn't a good thing.
The Decatur boys righted the ship Friday night, rolling over Brewer 76-52 at home and picking up the first of what it hopes is another nine-game streak.
FYI, that would mean the Red Raiders (21-5) would have secured a state championship.
"We got our motivation back and got back on the right path," Decatur senior Rico Pickett said.
Before the game, Pickett received a little motivation of his own, as it was announced that he was selected as a McDonald's All-American. Now he has to be chosen from a list of 1,500 to play in the McDonald's All-America game.
Then again, maybe the pressure was too much for Pickett to handle, at least at the beginning of the game.
"A little," he said. "I started out kind of bad. I tried to get my teammates in the game first instead of letting the game come to me. I forced it at first."
But by the end, that really didn't matter. Pickett finished with 16 points and 12 assists, though seven turnovers dampened an otherwise standout night.
"Twelve assists is outstanding, but three of his turnovers was trying to force things," Decatur head coach Jamie Lee said.
"But he's a great player. He understands."
Using its size and speed, Decatur jumped out early to a 9-5 lead on the Patriots (10-16). Pickett scored six of Decatur's first 11 points, the final two coming on an alley-oop dunk where he caught a pass from Rishard Tapscott over Brewer's Kyle Bowling.
And then Decatur turned up the defensive pressure, using a three-quarter-court press that forced Brewer to hurry the ball down the floor before turning it over. From the 2:53 mark of the first quarter to the 3:33 point of the second, Brewer either missed a shot or turned the ball over on 15 of 18 possessions.
"Their transition game is so good — it creates a lot of easy baskets," Brewer head coach Sam Brown said.
Said Lee: "That's something we planned to do. Our guys like it. I guess we jumped on them a little early because of it."
Indeed, in that same time frame, Decatur increased its lead from four points to 19, taking a 29-10 lead before Brewer's Jeremy Widener stopped the bleeding.
But by then, it was too little, too late for Brewer, which never could get the deficit back to single digits.
For Decatur, this was exactly what it needed.
"I was proud of the way our kids bounced back after the loss to Tanner on Tuesday," Lee said. "I was disappointed at Tanner with our defense. What I told them was I wanted to get back to pressure defense, to pressuring the basketball. I think we did a better job of that tonight."
It helps when you force 19 turnovers and can use your size on the boards, where Decatur outrebounded Brewer 41-29. And for the game, Decatur held the Patriots to 39.6 percent shooting from the floor.
Brown, though, left Decatur with a positive outlook heading into the area tournament.
"We're trying to get ready for the area tournament and their size and speed is something we'll have to get ready for for next Friday night," he said.
Jarodiaus Willingham added 19 points and 11 rebounds for Decatur, which also had Tapscott score 14 and Mark Mason 12. Widener and Rusty Boyd each scored 15 for Brewer.
Brewer girls 58, Decatur 35: The baskets were unkind to both Brewer and Decatur, where a missed shot from underneath the basket was par for the course Friday night. And still the Lady Patriots (19-7) found a way to win.
Brewer made only 37 percent of its shots in the first half, while Decatur made only two field goals in the first 16 minutes.
Regardless, Decatur head coach Brad Boy said he was still proud of how his team played. It's been a tough week for his Lady Red Raiders (2-23).
"We've had four deaths," said Boy, who explained that one player's aunt, one player's grandmother and another player's brother all died within the past week. "I'm proud of the girls for holding together and playing hard."
He added, "I don't know if I'd be any prouder if we had won. Regardless of what our record is, I continue to be proud of our girls and how they respond."
Brewer, despite starting out cold, heated up behind the shooting of Morgan Crawly and Courtney Scott. Crawley scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Scott added 16 points and five boards.
But with 10 girls traveling to this game, the Lady Patriots took a hit when Patricia Murray went down late in the game with an injured knee.
Head coach Ricky Allen said the injury could be anything from a bumped knee to possibly a dislocated kneecap. This coming a night after Brewer lost Krista Hughes for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee.
"It'll affect you because she's a good kid and she works hard," Allen said. "But we don't change anything. We've worked too hard to establish something."
Brewer broke to a 12-2 first-quarter lead, and led 25-8 at halftime, too much for Decatur to overcome. But the lead could have been bigger if the Lady Patriots would have made all of their layups.
"We didn't shoot the ball as well," Allen said. "We make seven, eight, nine, 10 more field goals, we feel a little different about the game."
Britney McCloud led Decatur with eight points.
Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!