After a roller-coaster season, the Decatur Lady Eagles’ season comes down to the final game on the schedule.
Decatur (16-12, 3-4) needs a win at Sanger Tuesday to clinch the third playoff spot in District 9-3A. It would be quite an accomplishment after the adversity they have faced the last few weeks.
“We want it really bad,” junior Haley Dennard said. “We want to prove that we can face all these hardships and still get it done. We want to prove it to ourselves as much as to other people.”
Halfway through the district schedule the Lady Eagles lost Murphy Graham with a torn ACL in the closing moments against Sanger. Decatur went on to win that game, 54-43.
Four days later Jasmyne Tate went down with the exact same injury in a loss to Gainesville.
“Everybody’s really driven,” junior Katie Isham said. “With one injury one week and one the next we’ve really been taken by storm.
“Everybody has really stepped it up, though, and I think with our extra effort we can be successful.”
Isham, fighting through a foot injury herself, will be leaned on heavily Tuesday for the offense she can generate with her inside game. She had 11 points the last time the two teams met.
Dennard knows it will take more than Isham to get the job done offensively.
“We’ve had to readjust our game,” Dennard said. “Some of us that weren’t scoring a lot before are going to have to step up.”
Sanger showed a zone in the first meeting that was shifted toward Graham’s side, so Decatur coach Billy Garner is not quite sure what to expect this time around.
He feels if his defense can do their part, the offense will take care of itself.
“We’ve got to play good defense, and when we have been setting up our half-court defense we’ve been doing a really good job,” Garner said. “We need to rebound the ball and take care of the ball.”
With its bye Friday the Lady Eagles will have a whole week to prepare for the Lady Indians.
“We’ll still spend a lot of time on defense,” Garner said. “That’s what is going to keep us in the game for the most part, is our defense.”
Decatur’s defense only gave up 20 points to Bridgeport on Tuesday. If they get that same kind of performance Tuesday, the Lady Eagles could well prolong their season.
“They’ve got a big opportunity ahead of them because a lot of teams don’t have a chance for the playoffs at this point,” Garner said. “They have a lot to play for.”