Decatur knocks out Sparkman in front of packed crowd
By Paul Stackhouse
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After whipping Sparkman 56-38 in front of a full house Monday night at Earl Morris Gymnasium, the Decatur High boys basketball team can look back at its regular season and then forget it all.
Everybody in postseason starts from scratch.
Sixth-ranked Decatur (22-5) won't play again until it hosts the Class 5A, Area 16 tournament Friday night. Muscle Shoals will face Athens at 6 p.m., followed by Decatur vs. Russellville at 7:30.
"Lose one, and you're out," Decatur senior Jarodiaus Willingham said. "That's just the way it is. We've had a great season, but it's over with now. Friday night is the most important game of our season."
Willingham is one of 10 seniors on Decatur's roster, and he said this is the year to go all the way.
"This game was a good one for us to build on going into Friday night," Willingham said. "We turned up our swag a little bit and we've got to keep doing it every game we play.
"We've got what it takes to go all the way. We're going all the way. We're ready. All of us have been talking — win seven in a row and we will bring back the big blue map (state championship trophy).
Willingham added, "I'm serious about everything I've said. I know what our team is capable of doing. We have already proven ourselves, just like tonight, beating Sparkman like we did. They're a great team. Now we have just got to go out and do what we know we can do."
Rico Pickett led Decatur in scoring with 15 points. Rolando McClain added 11 points, and G Redus had 10.
Brian Blackmon led Sparkman (20-8) in scoring with nine points.
The game was tied 6-6 at the end of the first quarter, and the Red Raiders led 23-16 at the half. Decatur then outscored the Senators 25-6 in the third period.
"For the most part, what we did in the third quarter put the game out of reach," Decatur coach Jamie Lee said. "We didn't do as well as I would have liked in the first half, although we did make a late run in the second quarter.
"We really got it going late in the third with some steals and a slam dunk, and that got our crowd really going. Our kids feed off the crowd.
"The thing we have to remember now is the fact that we're starting over. We have to move on from what we did in the regular season and focus on Friday night."
Sparkman girls 61, Decatur 30: The Lady Senators, ranked No. 3 in 6A, improved to 22-2 with the victory.
Adrienne Webb led Sparkman with 17 points and seven rebounds. Shai Wilkins had 15 points while Chaita Kelsey finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Whitney Fletcher led Decatur (2-24) with nine points.
"I told our girls after the game that we're 0-0 now," Decatur coach Brad Boy said. "I said even if we were 24-2, we still would be starting at 0-0. That's the beauty of this sport, it gives us a chance to start over.
"At times tonight, I liked what I saw. Lately, we have been breaking the games down into four-minute segments to grade how we've been playing. We'll when we go back and look at the film later, we'll see where Sparkman beat us by only one point in a 12-minute stretch."
The 5A, Area 16 girls tournament begins Thursday night at Athens.
The Lady Raiders are slated to play Muscle Shoals at 6. Athens will play Russellville in the nightcap.
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