Decatur wins defensive battle, survives NCTA in final non-district game

By Reece Waddell | Published Friday, January 11, 2019.
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With under 10 seconds remaining Friday, Izek Chavana went to the line to shoot free throws as Decatur clung to a 43-42 lead.

Chavana missed the front end of the one-and-one, giving North Central Texas Academy one last gasp. Chavana never let the Pioneers take advantage.

The 5-6 junior guard recorded his fourth steal of the night with 3.2 seconds left and slung the ball up the court, sealing the Eagles’ 43-42 victory in their final non-district game.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “I thought Chavana fought through some adversity. He didn’t get some foul calls throughout the game — thought a couple of charge calls could have gone our way — but I was proud of him to go make the game-winning play.”

Neither side was able to find much rhythm offensively, as the defenses stole the show. NCTA’s 2-3 zone gave Decatur trouble for the first half until the Eagles made a 9-2 run to end the second quarter.

Carson Tibbels climbed the ladder to catch a tough entry pass and finished around the rim to give Decatur a 23-20 lead at the intermission.

“We understood we were going to have a hard time scoring in the halfcourt against them,” Coffman said. “You score 43 points and win, that doesn’t happen unless you play your tail off on the defensive end of the floor.”

Decatur’s defense stepped up again in the second half, as a Triston Read steal led to an and-one by Ethan Southard. He finished second on the team in scoring with nine points.

Southard also drew the matchup of the Pioneer’s 6-10 post Fili Ivanis, whom he limited for most of the night.

NCTA made a late push to cut Decatur’s lead to two, 41-39, with under two minutes left, but the Pioneers left Southard open underneath the basket for an uncontested layup.

“[The defense] was very important,” Southard said. “It was a low-scoring game. I was just trying to be aggressive on the boards and tough boxing out —anything to get them out of there.”

Gage Rieger led Decatur in scoring with 10 points. Chavana and Grayson Harris each added six.

The Eagles improved to 23-3 with the victory. Decatur opens District 8-4A play at home Tuesday against cross-county rival Bridgeport.

“I think this was a boost heading into district play,” Coffman said. “I thought we played with a chip on our shoulder, which is what we’re looking for.”

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