PREVIEW: Decatur High boys’ basketball team starts regular season on Friday, Nov. 19Junior Turner Cummings drives into the paint as Head Coach William Faulkner looks on. Photo courtesy of Keson Graham photography.
By Paul Gaeta, contributor
Decatur, GA — With the conclusion of the Decatur High School football season, Decatur fans head indoors as the action shifts to the hardwood. The DHS varsity boys’ basketball season is fast approaching, as the first regular season game takes place at Paideia on Friday, Nov. 19.
The Decatur girls’ varsity basketball team is also about to start their season as well, but it will start later in the month. Due to time and resource constraints, Decaturish was unable to complete a season preview of the girls team. A “mid-season” review story will be written at the midway point of their season.
The boys’ Bulldogs team has great potential this year, as they are coming off a Sweet 16 exit in last year’s GHSA 5A playoffs. Even with that success, all signs point to the “Dawgs” improving this season as they are returning all starters, except for JaQouri Sutton, who graduated this spring.
Bulldogs Head Coach William Faulkner attributes the team’s recent success to being a well-balanced team.
“There is no ‘star’ per se. We work well together and need everybody [to contribute],” Faulkner explains.
When asked about his goals for himself this season, junior Turner Cummings said, “I definitely have aspirations to be first team all region, but the team’s success comes first. Whatever the team needs me to do that night to win is most important”.
This attitude is common throughout the team.
Coach Faulkner’s “all-in” mindset will be put to the test as the Dawgs play a very competitive schedule this season.
“We play in a very tough region and have to come to play every day,” he said. “There are really no days off, in our region. Outside of the Region we will be playing in a Thanksgiving and Christmas Tournament which should give us some very good competition, likewise.”
There is no denying that contributions from All-Region award winners Kenric Lanier (first team), Turner Cummings (honorable mention), and Parker Axam (honorable mention) will be crucial to the success of Faulkner’s team. In Decatur’s scrimmage vs. Maynard Jackson High School, Cummings was the leading scorer, and dropped 22 points. Those three, along with an array of others, are young, talented, and will more than likely lead Decatur back into the playoffs once again.
Playoffs aren’t the end goal, however. When asked what the team’s goals are this season, Cummings replied, “A state championship. Simple as that, I feel confident about the team this year, being that we only lost one senior and that our chemistry is continuing to improve.”
While players, coaching style, and expectations aren’t changing from last season to this one, one change will be vital to the team’s morale. Fans are returning to Decatur High School Gymnasium for the first time since the pandemic struck. Fans play a huge role in game flow, intensity, and overall gym energy.
“Fans definitely contribute to our team’s energy and performance,” Cummings elaborates. “One reaction from the crowd can be that deciding factor that rally’s us to come back or stretch a lead.”
Last year was described as a “scrimmage” atmosphere by players, with no fans filling the bleachers. The rowdy Decatur students, parents, and fans could play a pivotal role in the Dawgs’ success this year at home. This is definitely something to keep an eye out for, especially after big plays, and long scoring runs.
The future is bright for the Decatur boys basketball team, and expectations are certainly high. Players and coaches are confident, however. This year’s goal is simple, “….to be celebrating in Macon when it’s all said and done [Where the State Championship game is played], ” Cummings said.