In a battle of top-12 teams Friday at Decatur, the No. 12 Eagles held off a late charge from the 10th-ranked Burkburnett Bulldogs (14-5) to capture a thrilling win.
Decatur’s (14-5) 70-68 victory was another big win with league play set to start Friday.
“Playing them [Burkburnett] is always fun,” Decatur coach Drew Coffman said. “The kids always enjoy playing them because they are a fun team to compete against. It’s a fun style to play for sure.
“You can’t slow down against them because they aren’t going to allow you to. When you have a chance to attack, you’ve got to go. We did stress shot selection tonight.”
In an up-and-down, fast-paced game, Decatur came up with some big stops early in the fourth quarter to build a 58-47 lead with 4:33 remaining.
The Bulldogs responded with their up-tempo style and a 12-3 run to cut the score to 61-59.
Paul Walker completed a three-point play to push the Eagle lead back to 66-61 with 1:18 left Burkburnett would not go away, however, as Chavez Jackson’s 3-pointer got it back to a one-possession game with 12 seconds remaining.
After an empty Eagle possession, Coffman decided to foul the Bulldogs instead of letting them have a chance to tie it with a three.
“It was a tough call because they shoot the ball so well, and we weren’t rebounding very well,” Coffman said. “A lot of things have to happen in their advantage there, and weighing the odds I thought it was just better to foul.”
The Bulldogs hit both free throws instead of missing the second and giving themselves a chance to tie it with a putback. Austin Givens was fouled on the inbounds, and Decatur was able to hang on.
The win is a major statement for the Eagles as the pre-district schedule winds down, but Coffman knows there is still a lot of work to do.
“We made huge strides over the Christmas break, and we worked really hard,” Coffman said. “This is a great win, but you don’t cut down a net after winning this game. The big games are still ahead.”
It was a game of runs early, when Decatur started the game with a 12-4 lead. But then the Bulldogs responded with a 23-8 run to give them a seven-point advantage halfway through the second quarter.
The Eagles clawed their way back to only trail 32-31 at the half.
Decatur was able to jump back in front 45-43 heading to the final quarter after a Givens 3-pointer.
Paul Walker and Givens both led the Eagles with 24. Phillip Walker tossed in eight.
Cain Lowe and Taylor Clayton each scored six.
On Monday Decatur concluded the pre-district part of their schedule with another win, 76-51, over Iowa Park.
The Eagles fell behind by one at the end of the first quarter but dominated the rest of the way.
Paul Walker led the way with 22, and Phillip Walker added 16. Givens finished with 13.
The Eagles open district play Friday at home against Bridgeport.