SPORTS HEADLINES

Eagles make history, beat Levelland to advance to state tournament

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, March 2, 2019.
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With 1:49 left in the first half Saturday night, Decatur’s Noah Young stepped into a corner 3-pointer.

The Eagles had struggled to find a rhythm offensively, but that was all about to change. Young buried his only trey of the game to spark a 17-3 run to end the first half, as Decatur pulled away from Levelland 59-32 to claim the 4A Region I title.

“We were a little sloppy in the first quarter, but give Levelland a lot of credit,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “They were very physical on the ball which threw us off a little bit. But we settled down and made a little run in the second quarter, and it carried into the second half.”

Confetti falls around the Decatur Eagles after defeating Levelland 59-32 in the Region 1 4A championship game Saturday, March 2, 2019 at Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock, TX. Decatur advances to the state tournament in San Antonio. [Abbie Burnett]

 

It is the Eagles’ first region championship and first trip to the state tournament. Decatur (37-3) will play Liberty Hill in the 4A semifinal at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

The Eagles beat Liberty Hill 57-37 in the Whataburger Tournament two months ago.

“It’s unreal,” said Decatur senior Wilson Hicks, who was named tournament MVP. “Me, my dad and [brother] Parker used to go to the state tournament every year down in San Antonio. It’s something we’ve always wanted to be a part of.”

Hicks tallied 13 points and eight rebounds Saturday and 18 points in Friday’s semifinal against Estacado.

Senior Ethan Southard also scored 13 points for the Eagles, taking over the game in the third quarter. The all-tournament selection scored seven points, pulled down two rebounds, blocked two shots and recorded a steal in the third frame, during which Decatur went on a 13-2 push.

“My teammates just got me open inside every time,” Southard said. “This means a whole lot. We put in so much work this summer and in the offseason. We were ready to reap the rewards.”

Decatur outscored Levelland 50-24 over the final three quarters. The Eagles held the Lobos to under 32 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers.

Decatur’s Head Coach Drew Coffman waves the Region 1 4A Championship net above his cheering team Saturday, March 2, 2019 at Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock, TX. Decatur defeated Levelland 59-32 and advances to the state tournament in San Antonio. [Abbie Burnett]

“There’s no secret how we win games — it’s on the defensive end of the floor,” Coffman said. “The toughness and tenacity on the defensive end carried over to the offensive end by us attacking the basket and making plays at the rim.”

Grayson Harris, who was also named to the all-tournament team, finished with four points and five rebounds.

His reverse layup early in the third quarter put Decatur up by 20, 34-14, and Levelland never got any closer. The Eagles’ lead swelled to as much as 33 points late in the fourth quarter.

“This means a whole lot,” Harris said. “We came over here with a chip on our shoulder because nobody predicted us to win.”

Decatur has won 17 straight games. The Eagles have not given up more than 50 points in a game since their last loss, 55-49 to Wichita Falls Rider on Jan. 4.

“It feels really good,” Coffman said. “These guys deserve all the credit because they put in all the work. This was a goal they set. It’s so much fun when you see kids achieve their goals, especially when you see how much work they put into it every day.”

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