Basketball: Shut down – Short-handed Eagles stop Bulls

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, February 7, 2018
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Drew Coffman called it one of the best games defensively by any team he’s coached at Decatur.

BOTTLED UP – Bridgeport’s Andrew Horton tries to split a double team against Decatur. Horton was held to 10 points in the Bulls’ loss. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Surrendering only 12 first-half points on the road to rival Bridgeport, the Eagles disrupted the Bulls’ offense all night. Forcing Bridgeport into tough, contested shots, Decatur never allowed the Bulls to get into a rhythm offensively.

They did it three players short. With Dane Fitzgerald, Gage Rieger and Tristan Read sidelined, the Eagles stymied Bridgeport 49-27.

“I am leaving the gym tonight as proud of my team as I have ever been at Decatur High School,” Coffman said. “We overcame such adversity. I really thought if we came over here and got a win by one point, I would be ecstatic. We came over here and won by whatever we won by, so I’m as pleased as I’ve ever been.”

While Rieger and Read were just under the weather, Fitzgerald was dealing with an undisclosed injury. Coffman said he did not know what Fitzgerald’s status would be moving forward.

As a result, sophomore Izek Chavana was inserted into the starting lineup and immediately gave Decatur a jolt. Chavana scored nine points and constantly harassed Bridgeport on defense.

Whether it was a hand in a passing lane or applying ball pressure, Chavana made plays at both ends of the floor for Decatur.

“He’s our energy man,” Wilson Hicks said. “His nickname is ‘mijo.’ He’s not very tall, but we love having him on our team and we love whenever he gets after guys.”

Hicks finished tied for the team lead in scoring with 10 points. Grayson Harris also had 10.

Bridgeport did its best to take Hicks away for most of the game, and missing two starters, other Decatur players had to step up. Nine different Eagles scored in the win, highlighting a balanced scoring attack the Bulls were unable to slow down.

The loss kept Bridgeport winless in District 9-4A at 0-7 and also eliminated them from playoff contention. Senior Andrew Horton, the last remaining player from the Bulls’ 2015 state title team, finished with 10 points.

Decatur, meanwhile, improved to 4-3 in district with the win, tightening their grip on third place. The Eagles took on Gainesville Tuesday.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt we aren’t an offensive juggernaut at this point, but you can still win games by taking care of the ball, making the correct play offensively and guarding your tail off,” Coffman said. “I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”

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