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Rieger nails buzzer beater, Decatur beats Argyle for 8-4A title

By Reece Waddell | Published Tuesday, February 5, 2019.
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Gage Rieger scored six points during Tuesday’s tilt with rival Argyle, doing all of his damage from beyond the arc.

His final 3-pointer sent Decatur home with the District 8-4A championship.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

With under five seconds left and the score level at 34, Izek Chavana drove the lane and kicked the ball out to Noah Young, who made the extra pass to Rieger in the corner. He was all by himself, and as time expired, Rieger hit nothing but the bottom of net.

Decatur’s bench erupted and mobbed Rieger near midcourt, as Decatur clinched the 8-4A title with a 37-34 victory.

“I was confident when I let it go,” Rieger said. “I knew it was going in. It feels great not only for me, but for my team.”

Decatur held the ball for more than a minute on its final possession, bleeding clock near the top of the key. Two of Decatur’s starters — Wilson Hicks and Grayson Harris — had fouled out earlier in the quarter.

Argyle made a late 13-4 run to even the score with 2:16 left, but Decatur’s defense held Argyle scoreless down the stretch.

“The thought in my mind was if we didn’t hold for the last shot, they were going to,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “We do that every so often [in practice]. We put 45 seconds to a minute on the clock and see if we can hold for the last shot. It kind of paid off today.”

It is Decatur’s first district title since 2016-2017. Decatur has now beaten Argyle three times this season, with each game being decided by four points or less.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

The two district meetings came down to the final possession.

“They are the best team in the region,” said Argyle coach Russell Perkins. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the region that can beat them.”

Decatur locked up the top seed in 8-4A with the win, while Argyle clinched the second seed. The two schools could potentially meet again in the 4A Region I final with a trip to the state tournament on the line.

“We would be thrilled if we were allowed to do that,” Perkins said. “I know all of our games have been close, but 3-0 isn’t close. And that’s OK. We’re trying. And we’re going to keep trying and hopefully we get a chance to [meet again], but we’re not going to worry about that.”

Decatur started the game on a 9-3 run, with Hicks burying two first-quarter 3-pointers.

He led Decatur with 12 points. Rieger and Ethan Southard each added six points apiece. Grayson Harris and Noah Young chipped in four.

After Hicks and Harris fouled out in the fourth quarter, Rieger and Izek Chavana scored Decatur’s final five points.

“You look back to a year ago and we don’t win that game,” Coffman said. “All these close games we won this year, we lost all of them last year. The toughness and poise of making plays at the end of games is the difference between winning and losing.”

Decatur (30-3) improved to 6-0 in 8-4A. The Eagles have won 10 straight games dating back to Jan. 4.

Decatur will play its final home game Friday against Springtown and closes the regular season next Tuesday at Krum. The boys playoffs begin Feb. 18-19 with the bi-district round. Decatur will play the fourth seed from District 7-4A.

“[This] means a lot,” Coffman said. “Goal No. 1 is accomplished, and that was winning a district title. I think these guys deserve it for as hard as we’ve worked. Beating a team of that caliber three times in one year is quite an accomplishment.”

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