Decatur High’s varsity basketball teams open their seasons tonight and Tuesday with the third annual Bulldog Tip-Off Classic at the Decatur High Arena.
Tonight they play Arabia Mountain, the girls at 7 p.m., the boys at 8:30 p.m. They’ll play Druid Hills Tuesday at the same times.
In Monday’s opening games, Paideia plays Druid Hills, the girls at 4 p.m., the boys at 5:30 p.m.
Coach Charlie Copp’s boys team is coming off a frustrating 13-16 season, the school’s first losing season since 2005-06, and only the second since the late 1990s.
A lot of that can be blamed on recurring ankle injuries to star guard Kurtis Robinsion who spent nearly his entire senior year rehabbing and playing at partial strength.
For probably the first time in at least a decade, Decatur doesn’t have that reliable 15- to 20-points-per-game scorer. What they do possess is more depth and possibly more athleticism than they’ve had in years, including five players recently arrived off the football team.
“We have guys who can knock down shots,” Copp said, “including the three-pointer. It wouldn’t surprise me, as the season progresses, if someone were to emerge as a [consistent] scorer. Right now, though, I can’t tell who that’s going to be.
“But I can tell you,” he added, “that we have to brand ourselves as a defensive team. We have to really get back to guarding hard.”
The Bulldogs get tested hard early, their first six games against teams with a cumulative 106-56 record in 2011-12. This includes Booker T. Washington (Nov. 27 at home) which advanced to the AAAA Final Four and former regional rival Greater Atlanta Christian (Nov. 30, away), which went 25-6 while advancing to the AA Elite Eight last year.
Girls coach Bill Roberts has seen his season prematurely end in the first round of the state playoffs the last two years. Like Copp, he's also lost his leading scorer.
With Queen Alford now playing at Jacksonville University, senior Jordan Dillard will move from point guard to the more-suitable point forward, which she’ll likely play at Villanova University, the school she signed with last week.
Outside of senior post Alana Johnson, Dillard will have a young supporting cast, which includes a junior, sophomore and freshman in the starting lineup, and two freshmen and a sophomore as the team’s top subs.
But this doesn’t concern Roberts in the least. “This is the most overall talent we’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said.
After a number of years in AA, Decatur plays this season in the eight-team Region 6-AAA, which displayed great competitive balance in the fall sports.
With no sub-region, Decatur will play each regional opponent twice, a total 14 games. Basketball fans will get an immediate sneak preview with the Bulldogs playing four regional games (Woodward, Blessed Trinity, McNair and St. Pius X) from Dec. 4-14.
Decatur plays in Westminster’s holiday tournament Dec. 27-29 and also hosts the regional tournament Feb. 12-15.
Monday’s starting lineups:
Briana Nixon, 5-6 sophomore point guard
Kori Anderson, 5-7 junior shooting guard
Alana Johnson, 5-9 senior post
Jordan Dillard, 6-0 senior point forward
Kayla Thomas, 5-8, freshman strong forward
Jahmee Reeves, 5-4 sophomore point guard
Jayla Morrow, 5-2 freshman point guard
Kierra Edge, 5-8 freshman point forward
Adarius Lucas, 6-0 junior point guard
Murad Dillard, 6-4 junior shooting guard
Brett Riley, 6-4 senior post
Cordele Jackson, 6-3 senior point forward
Davante Meadows, 6-3 junior strong forward
Kendall Ford, 5-10 senior point guard
Noah Fisher, 6-4 junior post
Charlie Shew, 6-0 senior forward
For the tournament games tonight and Tuesday, you can purchase tickets online or at the door. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students. Bulldog cards are not honored for tournament or playoff games.
To see the full 2012-13 basketball schedule, go to the Decatur High website.