It was a bittersweet ending for the Decatur Lady Eagles Friday night. They picked up a key 54-43 league win over Sanger, but lost junior Murphy Graham in the process.
Graham went down with a knee injury after being fouled going for a lay-up late in the game. An MRI Saturday morning showed she had torn her ACL and will be lost for the season.
Before she went down Graham was having a tremendous night leading the Lady Eagles (15-10, 2-2) in scoring with 12 and helping them solidify the third position in District 9-3A.
“I told the team all week that this was the biggest game of the year,” Decatur coach Billy Garner said. “This puts us in a position where at least we aren’t looking up, but it’s not over by far.”
The game was in doubt until a strong fourth quarter by the Lady Eagles. Leading only 35-31 heading to the final frame, Decatur opened the fourth on an 11-3 run to widen the gap.
A Jasmyne Tate jumper with 2:11 remaining put the game away, giving Decatur a 50-37 lead.
Despite a few turnovers down the stretch, Garner was pleased with how his team finished.
“It was a great quarter,” Garner said. “Some of those mistakes were due to our youth. Like I’ve said before, growing up is hard sometimes. We played well in the second half, and I was proud of their effort.”
It was a sluggish start for Decatur with second-chance points hurting them early on, along with three first half 3-pointers by Sanger’s Carissa Spiker.
“We didn’t rebound the ball well, and they kept getting second chances,” Garner said about the first half. “We did a much better job when we got the running game going. You can’t run unless you rebound, and we did a better job of that in the second half.”
The Lady Eagles trailed 12-11 at the end of the first quarter, but got off to a good start in the second period. Decatur opened the period on an 11-3 run to take a 22-15 lead before giving up a 5-0 run to Sanger to end the half.
Tate and Katie Isham both finished with 11. Makayla Mayfield added eight, and Shelby Drews had five. Traci Hale tossed in four, and Haley Dennard scored three.
Sanger was led by Spiker with 14.
Decatur will be back on the road Friday when they travel to No. 5 Krum.