SPORTS HEADLINES

Eagles soar into playoffs

By Darin Allred | Published Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Decatur Eagles clinched at least a share of a district championship with a 49-46 road win at Gainesville Friday.

Decatur (20-9, 6-1) can win the District 9-3A title outright with a win against Krum Tuesday.

OUT IN FRONT - Cameron Mize chases down the loose ball for Decatur Friday. The Eagles slipped by Gainesville to jump to the top of the district standings. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

OUT IN FRONT – Cameron Mize chases down the loose ball for Decatur Friday. The Eagles slipped by Gainesville to jump to the top of the district standings. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Eagles used a strong second quarter to open up a 13-point halftime lead, then held on after a furious Leopard rally in the fourth quarter.

Decatur jumped out to an early 10-5 lead after baskets by Parker Slate, Cameron Mize and Paul Walker. Gainesville (13-8, 5-2) scored five-straight points on a layup by Demetrius Franklin and a three-point play by Ashton Neu to tie things up, but Philip Walker hit a shot with 45 seconds remaining to give the Eagles a two-point lead going into the second period.

QUICK PASS - Cain Lowe finds the open man against Gainesville Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

QUICK PASS – Cain Lowe finds the open man against Gainesville Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

That second quarter may have turned out to be the key to the game as the Eagles were able to stretch that two-point lead to double digits. Austin Givens drained a 3-pointer with 1:41 left in the half to put the Eagles ahead 26-16. Gainesville only made three baskets in the quarter, the last being a layup after a steal by Franklin that cut the Decatur lead to eight. But the Eagles got another 3-pointer from Philip Walker and a last-second bucket to take a 31-18 lead into halftime.

Gainesville’s David Moore scored the first three points of the third period to make it a 10-point game. Later, Decatur was able to push the lead to 37-23 as Mize hit a 3-pointer and Taylor Clayton hit a free throw.

But Gainesville ended the period with a rally that included a drive for a bucket by Moore, and free throws by Chance Sikes and Denzel Johnson. The Leopards held Decatur without a point for the final 4:24 to cut the deficit to 37-29 going into the fourth quarter.

The Leopard rally continued in the fourth as Moore and Johnson started to take control offensive with drives to the basket, either converting or drawing a foul.

Decatur led 43-37 after a bucket by Austin Givens with 3:30 remaining, but Moore followed with two-straight buckets, the second of which gave him 1,000 points for his career. Seconds later, Johnson stole the ball at midcourt and went in for a thunderous dunk to tie the game at 43-43 with 2:29 remaining.

But the Eagles responded with buckets by Shayler Carlton and Slate to go back up by four.

Gainesville did get back within two (47-45) with a minute remaining on a follow shot by Franklin. That would turn out to be the final field goal of the game.

Slate made a pair of free throws for Decatur, and Moore made one free throw for Gainesville to make it a three-point game.

The Eagles missed another free-throw attempt, giving the Leopards a chance to tie and force overtime. But two 3-pointers in the final seconds clanged off the rim, allowing Decatur to escape with the win.

Mize finished with 10 points for Decatur, while Philip Walker and Givens both added nine, and Slate had eight.

For Gainesville, Moore finished with 17 points, and Johnson had 12.

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