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Decatur fends off Estacado, advances to region final

By Reece Waddell | Published Friday, March 1, 2019.
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Sixteen years had passed since the last time the Decatur Eagles won a regional tournament game.

It was a long wait, but Friday night at Lubbock Christian University, Decatur finally ended the drought.

Behind a dominant defensive effort, the Eagles withstood and fended off a furious Estacado rally, winning the 4A Region I semifinal 52-46. Decatur advances to the 4A Region I final at 6 p.m. Saturday and will play the winner of Graham and Levelland.

Decatur’s Wilson Hicks (10) drives the ball past Estacado’s Kreeland Avery (33) during the Region 1 4A regional semifinal game Friday, March 1, 2019 at Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock, TX. Decatur defeated Estacado 52-46.

“It’s huge for us,” said Decatur senior Wilson Hicks. “Like I said before, going into the season we wanted to be here. It’s a one-game season now to get to state. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Hicks led all scorers with 18 points, shooting 63.6 percent. He was 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.

His offensive performance, along with Decatur’s defense, helped the Eagles overcome 26 turnovers. Estacado turned those miscues into 26 points, erasing a double-digit deficit late in the first half.

“When you have 26 turnovers you don’t expect to win many games,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “Our defensive effort was tremendous. I wish our offense could have helped our defense a little more than it did, but our defense was really good tonight.”

Decatur Assistant Coach Larry Hicks hugs Ethan Southard (23) as he and the rest of the team head toward the locker room after their victory over Estacado during the Region 1 4A regional semifinal game Friday, March 1, 2019 at Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock, TX. Decatur defeated Estacado 52-46.

The Matadors shot just 27.7 percent from the floor. Decatur limited an Estacado team that averaged 6.5 treys per game to just one 3-pointer.

“That was the big talk,” Coffman said. “Especially in the playoffs they have been shooting the ball well. I thought we did a really good job guarding the [3-point] line.

“I thought we had a toughness and grit about us on the [defensive] end of the floor. They had a guy [Donald Young] who is a really good player that we did a good job on. [Dreshawn Conwright] is also a really good player that fouled out early in the fourth. I thought we did a good job on their two best players. When you do that, you give yourself a chance”

Young ended the game with six points. Conwright added seven before fouling out. No Estacado player finished in double figures.

The Eagles took their largest lead of the game at 23-10 on a pair of Gage Rieger free throws with 4:53 remaining in the first half. From there, Estacado began whittling Decatur’s lead down.

The Matadors eventually pulled to within three, 47-44, with 1:21 left, but the Eagles answered with another pair of free throws from Rieger to seal the victory.

“[Estacado] coach [Tony] Wagner is a phenomenal coach,” Coffman said. “They have a really good program. They’re not going to lay down. They’re going to compete and battle hard.”

Decatur improves to 36-3 with the win. It is only the second regional tournament game the Eagles have won.

In 2003, Decatur beat Merkel in the region semifinal before falling to Everman in the region final. The Eagles have never advanced to the state tournament.

“Coming into this game we knew we were going to have to be resilient and withstand those runs,” Hicks said. “When you go into a game you’re going have to take care of the ball. I don’t think we did a great job of that, but thankfully our defense was able to get some stops.”

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