The Tuesday night game between the boys from Decatur High and Druid Hills featured a stop-start tempo throughout. The game had a total of 48 personal fouls along with four technicals.
But Decatur prevailed with depth and won, 48-44.
The team's second straight win in the Decatur Tip-Off Classic came against a very athletic and much larger opponent playing in a higher classification. Druid Hills, which went 17-8 last year, is a AAAAAA school while Monday’s quicksilver foe, Arabia Mountain, is AAAAA.
Decatur got 14 points from 6-0 junior point guard Adarius “Put” Lucas, who also delivered a superlative no-look pass to Cordele Jackson for a basket with 1:20 left giving Decatur the lead for good, 43-42.
“Pat saved us,” said Decatur coach Charlie Copp. “That’s about the most relevant quote I can give you.”
Earlier in the evening Jordan Dillard scored 22 points in the Decatur girls’ 64-34 victory over Druid Hills.
Ugly as it was, the boys game was even more of a nail biter than Monday’s overtime win. The two teams were tied 20-20 at half, and 30-30 after three quarters.
Neither led by more than two points in the second half, until Murad Dillard’s two free throws put Decatur ahead 45-42 with 45.7 seconds left. Dillard, who again contributed vital free throws during crunch time – he scored Decatur’s last two points of the game on free throws with 1.8 seconds left – finished with 12 points.
Decatur also got tough minutes from reserve guards Tyler Axam and Kendall Ford, who scored three and six points respectively and combined for several assists. On a night when fouls were excessive, Decatur’s depth won out with 11 players getting minutes and nine scoring.
“I think that’s the way it’s going to be for us all season,” Copp said, “with a different guy stepping up each night. We certainly needed that tonight, not only because of all the fouls, but because everybody out there was dragging quite a bit after playing back-to-back games. In fact I think fatigue mostly explains why there were a lot of fouls.”
The Bulldogs also won this no-nonsense defense. Druid Hills didn’t get its first field goal until 3:32 before halftime and had only two field goals total in the first half.
Druid Hills finished with 12 field goals on the night (one three pointer) while Decatur had 13 (three triples). Both teams were 19 for 29 from the foul line.
Druid Hills was led by 6-8 senior Clarence Williams, who played almost exclusively on perimeter in scoring 15 points, nine of those on free throws.
The girls had little problem with its opponent, except that head coach Bill Roberts gave his star Dillard a brisk pep talk at halftime.
“I didn’t think she was playing hard, and I didn’t think she was looking to score,” he said.
Dillard promptly erupted for 16 third-quarter points as the Lady Bulldogs breezed to their second win in as many tries.
Junior Kori Anderson opened the game with three first-quarter three pointers, but the real highlights were freshman Jayla Morrow and Kayla Thomas, who had 14 and 13 points respectively. Morrow is a lightening 5-2 point guard while Thomas is a 5-9 power forward.
“They’re both going to be special,” Roberts said. “Being freshmen, they will be inconsistent. But you saw tonight they’re both pretty close to being among the best players on this team.”
Decatur has a week off before playing Booker T. Washington, now an AAAA school, at home next Tuesday, the girls at 5:30 p.m. the boys at 7 p.m. The Washington boys team, playing under former Decatur assistant and head coach William Faulkner, went 20-10 last year and advanced to the AAA Final Four.
In Tuesday’s two early games, Paideia’s girls beat Arabia Mountain 45-36, while the Arabia Mountain boys crushed Paideia 78-47.