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Basketball: Decatur leaning on defense

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, February 10, 2018
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The 2017-2018 season has presented several challenges for the Decatur Eagles.

Leading scorer Wilson Hicks, senior Dane Fitzgerald and post Ethan Southard missed the first several games of the year while still in football. The Eagles also played a rigorous non-district schedule, competing in the Whataburger Tournament and squaring off against reigning 2A state champion Muenster and 3A’s preseason No. 1 team Bowie.

Even though Decatur did not win any of those non-district games listed above, coach Drew Coffman believes his team took something away from those losses.

“I hope we have some confidence heading into this point of the year,” Coffman said. “That’s the reason we [play a tough schedule].”

After Friday’s game with Krum, Decatur will have one game remaining in the regular season. If the Eagles win out and the Bobcats lose to Argyle, Decatur would tie Krum for second place.

Unlike last season when the Eagles scored a bevy of points, Decatur has been getting it done recently on the defensive end of the floor.

To compensate for the dip in offense, the Eagles have turned up the pressure defensively. Decatur averaged 68.1 points per game last year but have managed just 49.9 points per night this season.

The past two games, the Eagles held Bridgeport and Gainesville to 27 and 30 points. Against the Bulls, Decatur was short three players and still held Bridgeport to just 12 first half points.

“We’ve learned that’s how we have to win games at this point,” Coffman said. “We’re just going to have to hang our hat on taking care of business down there and not making mistakes offensively as far as shot selection and turnovers. The kids have kind of bought into it the last couple of games.”

The Eagles held Bridgeport’s leading scorer, Andrew Horton, to just 10 point last week. A few days later, the Eagles limited Gainesville’s top player Josh Kemp to just nine points.

In all five of Decatur’s district victories, the Eagles have held opponents to an average of 31.8 points per game.

“We know defense is what we’re good at,” said Wilson Hicks. “We love getting down and guarding. I think we bring great energy on the defensive end of the floor.”

As Decatur gears up for a postseason run, the Eagles know they will have to lean heavily on their defense when shots aren’t falling. Because as far as Coffman is concerned, Decatur will only go as far as its defense takes them.

“If you defend, you’re going to give yourself a chance at the end of the day against anybody,” Coffman said. “That’s just what we have to buy into.”

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