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Decatur High basketball teams on historic run headed into state tournament

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Decatur High basketball teams on historic run headed into state tournament

The Girls hoist the 5A 4 region trophy after a 62-58 win over Arabia Mountain. Photo by @kesonthedhspics

By David McFarland, contributor

Decatur, GA — Decatur High School’s Basketball program is rewriting history in 2023.

The boys and girls Bulldogs have been crowned region champions. But the job is far from finished; the Bulldogs see regional success as just a launching point for a run in the State Tournament, beginning Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the Decatur High gym

The action begins at 6 p.m. (when the girls play Northgate) and continues at 7:30 P.M when the boys take on Harris County. Tickets can be purchased on GoFan.co.  

Decatur High’s basketball players also received some individual awards, with six players named to the All-Region team: girls team members Cornelia Ellington, Ryen Evans, and Marlo Simms, and boys team members Luke Brooks, Turner Cummings, and Quay Wallace.

The Decatur High varsity girls celebrate during the region final against Arabia Mountain. Photo by @kesonthedhspics

The girls varsity team, coached by Vincent Gatling, claimed the 5A 4 crown after a nail-biting 62-58 victory over Arabia Mountain, capping off a hugely successful season in which the Bulldogs went 18-8, including an 8-2 record in regular season region play.

Those two losses, however, came against none other than Arabia, which went a perfect 10-0 in the region. Decatur wasn’t daunted, and instead used those previous losses as fuel to finally get the better of Arabia.

For Coach Gatling, the keys to success this season were the “accountability, mental toughness, and work ethic,” shown by the “really talented players,” that make up the Girls’ Varsity team.

There’s little time to celebrate, however. The Bulldogs’ focus is on Northgate, the coach said.

Decatur is “going into that game feeling confident” according to Coach Gatling, and their form backs that up.

Decatur has won all but one of their last 10 outings and looks to be hitting stride at the perfect time. Nonetheless, Decatur isn’t getting ahead of itself. Coach Gatling said that the Bulldogs won’t let the moment or pressure of being the one seed get to them. Instead, they’ll “take it one game at a time,” once the business end of the season tips off. 

The Decatur High boys varsity team hoists the 5A 4 region trophy after a 43-36 win over Lithonia. Photo by @kesonthedhspics

The boys varsity team, with Head Coach William Faulkner at the helm, took Lithonia down by a score of 43-36 in the region tournament final to clinch the one seed.

For Coach Faulkner, Decatur’s success is the culmination of years of work from players, coaches, and support staff. He described how the Bulldogs’ current “excellent group” of players have been with the program since their days at Beacon Hill Middle School, and have been bolstered along the way by a strong cast of coaches.

The coaching staff have turned the Bulldogs into a winning machine, boasting a 7-3 record in region play and 16-8 winning tally overall. 

Coach Faulkner is full of praise for his athletes, who have “embraced the demands” of being a varsity basketball player at Decatur.

This team chemistry coalesced into a red-hot streak of wins to close out the season, with Decatur winning nine of its last eleven. The focus has now moved to the State Tournament, where Coach Faulkner says the expectations are what “they have always been.”

“Perform up to our expected level and put forth our best effort,” Faulkner said.

Faulkner said the end goal remains bringing home a state championship for Decatur High.

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