Decatur and Frisco Lone Star matched each other shot-for-shot through two-and-a-half quarters.
Then in a span of a minute and 14 seconds, Lone Star’s Zach Brown and Cameron Gooden gave the Rangers some separation, sparking a 9-0 run. Brown made two hard drives to basket and Gooden buried a 3-pointer at the top of the key to give the Rangers a lead they would never surrender.
The Frisco school took a 60-50 victory over the Eagles in the Class 3A Region II quarterfinal at Denton High School’s Purple Pit.
“In a game like this, where it’s back and forth, it comes down to whoever can have that 9-0 run,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “They were the one that went on the 9-0 spurt to put us behind. That’s the reason they are a top-10 team and have won 25 games.”
Decatur’s season ends at 25-6. It was the final game for seven Decatur seniors – Philip Walker, Paul Walker, Dallin Billmire, Austin Givens, Taylor Clayton and Cain Lowe.
“You grow so close and you look at them as your own children. You want them to see the fruits of their hard labor,” Coffman said. “You wish it could have gone longer. Eventually you’ve got to take the jersey and tonight they took ours.”
In his final game, Lowe poured in 24 of the Eagles’ 50 points. Philip Walker added 11 points, and Paul Walker nine before fouling out in the final minute.
“We had a great coaching staff that expected all that we had and more. That’s what got us this far,” Lowe said.
Before Lone Star’s 9-0 run in the middle of the third, Decatur took a 34-33 lead on Lowe’s bucket in transition.
Lone Star then pushed the pace and continued attacking the boards. Outside of Brown’s two baskets and Gooden’s trey, Jonathan Clay pulled down an offensive rebound and made a putback in the game-changing run.
Lone Star outrebounded Decatur 26-17 in the game and pulled down six offensive rebounds for nine second-chance points.
“We knew we had to block out. We gave them way too many second-chance opportunities around the basket,” Lowe said.
M’Kyl Bordes grabbed eight boards, including three on the offensive end. Brown had three offensive rebounds among his nine.
“M’Kyl did a great job on the boards. That was something we emphasized because Decatur is an excellent rebounding team,” said Lone Star coach Jody Brown.
Coffman said his team battled but struggled to overcome Lone Star’s size inside. Six of Lone Star’s eight-man rotation were 6-1 or taller.
“It was definitely not due to a lack of effort,” he said. “They had a couple of physical tools we didn’t. I’m so proud of the effort. There’s nothing to hang our heads about.”
Gooden, who led Lone Star with 18 points, hit the 3-pointer to cap the 9-0 run and give the Rangers a 42-34 lead. It was the first of only two 3s for the Rangers.
“We didn’t make any 3s in the first half and that had us at ease at halftime,” Brown said. “We’re usually a good 3-point team. I knew we were going to hit some in the second half. Cameron hit a big one.”
Decatur got back within three, 43-40, late in the quarter on a Lowe basket. But Gooden’s shot just inside the 3-point arc with five seconds left in the frame put Lone Star back up five.
The Eagles made one last run after a Taylor Clayton 3-pointer and a Lowe free throw, pulling within three again at 47-44 with 5:50 remaining.
A layup and 3-pointer from Camden Craddock put the Eagles back down eight with 4:23 left. Decatur could never get closer than five the rest of the way.
Coming off emotional wins Friday, neither team showed any signs of a hangover in the first half. Decatur shot 11-for-19 in the first 16 minutes. Lone Star was 12-of-25.
Lone Star led 16-13 after the first quarter. Decatur took its first lead on a pair of Lowe free throws. He scored 16 points in the first half.
The Eagles led by two in the final seconds of the first half before Gooden hit a shot to send the two teams into the locker room tied at 29.