Basketball: Bulls, Eagles prepare for district sprint – Bridgeport, Decatur enter loop on winning streaks

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, January 9, 2016
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Chasing Title

CHASING TITLE – Decatur’s Cade Lamirand applies pressure during a game earlier this year. The Eagles start 8-4A play Jan. 15 at Castleberry. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

With start of the District 8-4A season on the horizon, the Bridgeport Bulls and Decatur Eagles appear to be peaking just in time.

Going into their non-district finale against Dallas Episcopal, Bridgeport (13-8) is on an eight-game winning streak. The Eagles (15-6) have been nearly as hot, winning six straight before Monday’s final tuneup at Alvarado.

The two teams start 8-4A action Jan. 15. The defending league champion Bulls welcome Lake Worth, and last year’s 8-4A runnerup, Decatur, heads to Castleberry.

After a 5-8 start, the Bulls (13-8) have been red-hot since Devonte Patterson rejoined the lineup Dec. 15. Bridgeport beat 3A ranked teams – Ponder and Peaster – swept its own tournament and then beat up Mineral Wells and Godley.

“We’re feeling great and confident in our abilities,” said Bridgeport guard Jacob DelAngel. “It’s about time to peak – January and February.

“Our chemistry is a lot better since the beginning of the season. The last few games show our on-the-court chemistry.”

In their past two games, the Bulls have put up 75 and 80 points.

“At this point, as a coach you are trying to guard against a letdown,” said Bridgeport coach Alan Green. “We want to try to get a little better each day. Our goal is to just worry about today.”

Green expected to use the Dallas Episcopal game as dress rehearsal for district.

“It’ll be a good measuring stick to get ready for next Friday,” he said.

The Bulls also will need to prepare for life as the hunted. The defending state champions have already seen teams build up matchups against them.

“We’re learning that we’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Green said.

Across the Big Sandy Creek, Decatur has bounced back from an 0-3 start to the year by winning 15 of 18.

“We’re playing better. We’ve got to keep getting better,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “Last year at this time, we were playing as good as we had all year and leveled off. Our focal point is continuing to improve.”

The Eagles have put together the recent hot-streak against an improved schedule. Decatur beat the top-ranked team in 3A, Van Alstyne, and took down state-ranked Peaster since the start of December.

One of the Eagles’ six losses is a two-point setback at fourth-ranked Argyle.

“In my four years here, it’s the toughest schedule we’ve played,” Coffman said. “The guys have handled it well. After an 0-3 start, the guys came back, played good teams and we’ve been fortunate to win some games. We’re confident going into district.”

Decatur senior guard Cade Lamirand agreed the tough schedule will benefit them moving forward.

“Those tough games gave us experience for later in the year,” Lamirand said.

“Last year, we peaked early and hit a plateau. This year we started on a roller coaster, but now we’re playing well as a team.”

Strong front-court play has helped the Eagles during their six-game winning streak. Mason Hix poured in 36 against Burkburnett. He and Parker Hicks combined for 30 in the win over Iowa Park.

“Our post play is getting better,” Lamirand said. “The two bigs have opened it up with their play down low.”

The 11th-ranked Bulls and 16th-ranked Eagles will not have to wait long to meet each other in district play. Their first of two top-20 matchups will be Jan. 19 at Decatur.

“It’s going to be a fun game like last year with a packed house,” the Eagles’ Lamirand said. “It was a tough, hard-fought battle.”

The Bulls’ DelAngel added: “They are a great team and have a great coach. They will have a great game plan and we’ll do our best. We’re definitely looking forward it.”

While there will be a buildup to that matchup, Green and Coffman pointed out the 8-4A race is far more than just a two-game affair.

“In an eight-game district, there’s no time to make up ground,” Coffman pointed out. “Every district game is do-or-die.”

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