Waddell column: Decatur’s toughness has Eagles two wins from a championship

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, March 2, 2019.
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You don’t have to look far to find the word that best embodies the Decatur Eagles.

It’s printed on the back of their warmup shirts, and for the past three months, has been what the Eagles have lived by.

Saturday night at Lubbock Christian, it’s what got them to the state tournament for the first time. After a slow start to the first quarter that resulted in Decatur getting in early foul trouble, the Eagles stayed the course, eventually pulling away for a 59-32 victory over Levelland in the 4A Region I final.

Reece Waddell

“We break out the tough every day. It’s on the shirts. You see it,” said Decatur senior Wilson Hicks. “It really tells the story of this group. Tough kids, and it shows how hard we’ve worked this summer and into the fall.  We showed everybody we’re the best team in Region I today.”

Decatur did that and then some.

The Eagles have not allowed more than 49 points in the playoffs, winning each of their five postseason games by an average margin of 23.9 points.  Decatur’s defense clamped down again in the region final, as Levelland shot under 32 percent for the game.

“We talk about resiliency, and we came back to that,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman.

Decatur’s Izek Chavana (5) celebrates a foul drawn on Levelland during the Region 1 4A regional championship game Saturday, March 2, 2019 at Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock, TX. Decatur defeated Levelland 59-32 and advance to the state tournament in San Antonio. [Abbie Burnett]

Despite early fouls and calls not going their way, the Eagles hardly flinched.

“We want to play physical and we like playing physical,” Hicks said. “In times like that, we just have to keep our head. From here on out games are going to be high emotion. We understand that.”

Decatur’s ability to control its emotions with so much at stake is the reason it withstood the storm early against Levelland. The Eagles’ toughness is the reason they are headed to San Antonio and the state tournament for the first time.

After going 17-17 last season and getting eliminated in the first round, Decatur is now two wins from a state title.

The Eagles can thank their toughness for that.

“We’re going to go down and prove to the rest of the state like we did Region I,” Hicks said. “I think we’re the best team out there.”

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