The year’s big moments in sports

Eight moments that defined Decatur sports in 2017 and 2018

May 17, 2018

Photos courtesy of Keson Graham (soccer, tennis, lacrosse, basketball), Mary Souther (track); by Molly Weston (football)

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Boys Lacrosse

April 23, 2018

In 2017, Grady knocked Decatur out of the playoffs. Consequently, when a spot in the state playoffs was on the line during the 2018 season and Grady was the team standing in the way, the boys lacrosse team had more than enough motivation to avenge the previous year’s loss.

“Knowing they were the team we had to beat helped us a lot,” junior Jake Powell said.

Decatur started the game strong and never looked back on their way to a 19-3 mercy rule victory. The entire team participated in the victory, and Powell had five goals, while sophomore Elliot Baca assisted on seven goals. Lacrosse went on to secure the fourth seed from the region, before losing to Starr’s Mill in the first round of the state playoffs.

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Tennis

April 10, 2018

The boys tennis team found themselves tied 2-2 with North Springs in the third place game of the region playoffs. The team’s lone senior, Adam Lagyak, had to win to secure the boys the third seed from the region, and more importantly, missing a first round state playoff matchup with perennial powerhouse Chamblee.

Adam easily won his first set but then was stung by a bee on his hand in the second set, while up 4-3.  Despite obvious pain, Lagyak went on to win the match, coming in his clutch in his third to last match as a Bulldog.

“I had to take a medical break,” Lagyak said. “After that, I had pain but I still managed to end the match quickly.”

The boys team went on to win the first round of the state playoffs against Southwest Dekalb, before losing to Carrollton in the second round.  Securing the fourth seed from the region, the girls lost to reigning champion Chamblee in the first round.

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Boys Soccer

March 23, 2018

When they saw the season’s schedule, the boys soccer team marked the Friday night game at Grady as one of the biggest games of the season. Not only did it have the potential to shape their outcome in the region, but it also meant playing many of their longtime club teammates.

Since Grady is only a few miles away, Decatur students showed up in force, rivaling the Grady student section.

“The atmosphere of the game was crazy,” senior Alex Hall said.

Region games cannot end in a tie, so after a scoreless 80 minutes of regulation, the boys began two five minute overtime periods. Decatur appeared destined to win after senior Abdiaziz Yussuf scored in the first two minutes, but Grady pushed the game to penalties with a last-minute goal.

Decatur won 13-12 after 15 rounds of penalties with each round after the fifth being a sudden death round. This outcome launched Decatur into first place in the region, which they used to make it to the Final Four of the state playoffs, where they fell 5-4 in another set of penalties to McIntosh.

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Track and Field

March 21, 2018

Eoin McNally, Sam Amick, Sam Mahany and Michael Johns had already run their various middle-to-long distance individual races earlier in the day at the Westlake Relays. By 4:00, when the 4×800 relay rolled around, they were tired. As an extra incentive to run fast, Coach Tramell Smith promised that the one with the slowest split would have to do 100 push-ups in the finishing area.

“I just tuned it out and ran as fast as I could,” Junior Sam Amick said. “There’s no time to think about that when your lungs are on fire.”

The relay overcame fatigue and dropped 16 seconds off of their seed time to finish fifth in a time of 8:57. Junior Michael Johns ran the slowest split, but coach Smith decided to forego the punishment, as Johns’ time of 2:11 was a personal record (PR).

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Girls Lacrosse

March 2, 2018

Nerves were high as the girls lacrosse team prepared for their Friday night matchup with Grady. Not only was a playoff spot on the line, but Grady was also the team that had knocked Decatur out of the playoffs in the 2017 season.

“I think everyone went into that game expecting to play our hearts out,” senior Grace Tozer-Rich said. “We all kind of had a chip on our shoulder from last year’s game and we were determined to make the end result different.  Also not having our goalie (Kristina Jones) made everyone work extra hard and play as one unit of a team.”

Decatur’s first two goals weren’t recorded because of a broken scoreboard, so the team came off the field at the end of the first half with a larger advantage than they previously thought. They ended up winning 14-6, securing the first playoff experience for any member of the team.

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Boys Basketball

January 30, 2018

Many teams will schedule an easier opponent on Senior Night in order to create a positive, lasting memory for their dedicated seniors. Decatur’s girls basketball team, however, preferred to face their toughest region opponent of the season: Maynard Jackson.

“Playing a team like Maynard Jackson… drives us to play the best game we can and work as a team more than ever,” senior Clare Taylor said.

Decatur entered the Tuesday night showdown with a formidable 9-2 record in the region, but one of those two losses was to Jackson. Destined for a different outcome this time, junior Olivia Stephenson sunk two key free throws in the last minute to keep the game from going to overtime. Until the Bulldogs pulled out the 41-39 victory, Jackson was unbeaten (12-0) in region play.

“Not many people are expected to beat Maynard, especially us,” junior Kenya Oliver said. “A lot of people counted us out. To beat them especially on senior night made that the highlight of our season.”

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Girls Basketball

November 20, 2017

The Bulldogs were down by three points at halftime, hoping to pull off the come-from-behind win.

“The Creekside game was a big game for our team,” senior Matthew Poindexter said, “but we started off a little rough.”

In the locker room, Head Coach Bill Roberts told the team to “play aggressive, move the ball, take smart shots and play honest hard defense.”

“We never gave up and worked hard to come back to try and get a win,” Poindexter said, “but the shot just didn’t fall.”

Though the end result of the game was yet another close loss, senior Khari Davis believes that the game gave the team an identity; an identity in which they show resilience.

“The Creekside game was a very pivotal game,” Davis said. “We came back from 12 with two minutes left in the game, so it showed us what we are capable of.” “We’re a team that never gives up.”

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Football

October 4, 2017

After beating Grady by a score of 48-21 on Sept. 22, the team had already improved on their 1-9 record of the 2016 season.

A week and a half later, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, the team was supposed to have a shorter practice, but was running behind schedule. Head coach Cody Cory called the players in and gave them the option to either finish at the moment, on time, or take 20 more minutes to finish the script. As a team, they decided to stay for these extra 20 minutes, Cory said.

“A lot of people only see the box score,” Cory said. “But that’s the not the true result of how our kids have worked, and how our kids have been successful and how they’ve fought for one another and how they’ve tried to make a change and be the change.”

Two nights later, the team beat another team they had lost to in 2016, Riverwood, with a 14-12 win.

“This may not be a biological family,” Cory said. “But at the end of the day you’re supposed to look out for each other and build relationships with each other.”

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