It’s been nearly two decades since the Decatur Lady Eagles played in a regional basketball tournament.
Decatur (32-5) will end its drought Friday. The Lady Eagles will battle Seminole in the 4A Region I semifinals 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lubbock Christian University’s Rip Griffin Center.
“It’s definitely been a while for us,” said Decatur coach Lindsay Griffin. “I think it was in 2003 under coach [Rene] Hanebutt. After her was Billy Garner, and he didn’t take them that far.
“We’re excited about the opportunity.
Some of the girls that have been in the program for a while have started to call it the third-round curse, but we broke it. Just to make it through that mental block was a huge achievement for our program, and we’re glad to be back at this level.”
Seminole won its 2-4A league, and has collected postseason wins against El Paso Riverside, Dumas and Big Spring.
“We’ve been able to watch a little bit of film on Seminole,” Griffin said. “I think they’re very similar to us. They’re a fast-paced team. They like the perimeter shot a little more than we do, and they’ve got four or five girls who can shoot from the perimeter.
“I think this is a really good matchup for us. If we can keep their transition opportunities to a minimum and make them actually run their offense, we should be in good shape. We’ll need to shoot better because we haven’t really shot well from the floor in the last few games. That’s going to have to roll around for us, especially playing higher-quality teams deep in the playoffs.”
The coach believes the team’s hard work has allowed the Lady Eagles to hit their stride at the right time.
“There’s definitely been a lot of work put into this season,” Griffin said. “We started really playing a lot together May through August. Since I’ve been here, there’s been years where we didn’t play our best game in the playoffs.
I think we’ve done a better job of managing that this year.”
Decatur punched its ticket to the regional tournament with a 37-34 win against District 7-4A rival Krum in the 4A Region I quarterfinals Monday.
Holding a 1-point lead with 19 seconds left, Decatur senior Grace Lowery knocked down a pair of free throws to increase the Lady Eagles’ advantage to 3.
Krum’s final two shot attempts could not find the basket.
“Playing a team three times in a season is extremely difficult,” Griffin said. “We don’t expect a game to go our way all of the time, but the girls have shown a lot of resiliency in the past two games. I think the difference has been the girls’ ability to not let frustration and selfishness creep in during the big moments. We’ve stuck with out game plans, and it’s worked out for us.”
Due to inclement weather, the Lady Eagles traveled to Lubbock Wednesday — a change from the team’s planned itinerary.
“There’s a lot going on that’s affecting our regular schedule,” Griffin said. “Aside from the early travel day, we’ve got a normal schedule lined up with practices and study hall. We’ve got to make sure that when we’re doing basketball things, that it feels normal to them. Having as much of our routine is definitely important. We want to make sure it doesn’t feel like we’re wasting time up until game day.”
With a win over Seminole, Decatur will face a tough task in the regional final 1 p.m. Saturday against 7-4A rival Argyle or reigning state champion Canyon.
“After the second game against Argyle, coach [Chance] Westmoreland and I both agreed we wanted to try to play each other again this season,” Griffin said. “The good thing is that we know Argyle, and know what our game plan is against them.
“If it’s Canyon, there’s not a lot of time to prepare. We will get to watch their 6 p.m. game Friday, so we’ll have to build off of that. Levelland played Canyon close in the regional quarterfinals, and we beat Levelland over Christmas break. Hopefully that’ll give us a little bit of confidence if we were to face them.”
Sitting just two wins away from a possible state berth, Griffin could be close to checking off one of her career goals.
“It would be unbelievable to make it to state,” Griffin said. “That’s something I’ve dreamt of since I was a little girl. I can’t really let myself think about that right now. Right now, we’re focused on this weekend only, and doing the best we can to make our community proud.”