On the rise: Decatur knocks off Kentridge, Inglemoor

By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror

The Decatur Gators couldn’t have had a better weekend.

The Gators rolled over a pair of ranked teams to remain unbeaten on the season. Decatur picked up a huge South Puget Sound League North Division victory Friday night over third-ranked Kentridge, 58-55, then went to the Les Schwab Hoop Challenge at Bellevue Community College and blew away sixth-ranked Inglemoor, 70-60, Saturday night.

The two wins improved the fifth-ranked Gators to 6-0 on the season and 2-0 in the SPSL North. The win over Kentridge on Friday left only two teams with unbeaten records in the North. Seventh-ranked Kentwood is also 2-0 in league play. The two teams played last night at Decatur (after press time).

“It was a good win,” Decatur head coach Kevin Olson said about the victory over Kentridge. “But it doesn’t decide who wins the championship. Every night we step on the floor is a big game. But I would much rather win.”

The Gators got the victory in a little different fashion then they are used to Friday night. Junior wing Cam Schilling led a strong defensive effort against the talented Chargers, who lost in the state championship game a season ago.

Schilling and the rest of the Decatur interior defenders limited Kentridge’s inside monster — 6-foot-5 Renado Parker — to just 15 points, 10.5 below his average.

“Obviously, the big thing for Parker is to not allow him to catch the ball on the block,” Olson said. “When he gets the ball with a foot in the paint, he’s going to dunk it. Cam Schilling did an awesome job. We also had good pressure on the wings.”

Parker had scored 20 or more points in each of the Chargers’ first four games, including games of 30 and 31. But he rarely got the ball in the paint during the first three quarters Friday. Eight of his points came in the fourth quarter.

“Our game plan was to trap him every time he got the ball in the post,” said 6-5 senior Darious Walker, who helped Schilling on Parker. Walker finished with 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Gators.

Chris Washington led Kentridge (4-2) with 18 points.

Decatur also did a solid job on the offensive end of the court.

Junior point guard Michael Hale got things going early for the Gators by scoring 14 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, including back-to-back 3-pointers to end the first quarter. The two shots erased a 14-10 lead by Kentridge and Decatur never trailed again.

Walker and Hale combined to score all 13 of the Gators’ second-quarter points to give Decatur a commanding 29-23 lead at the half.

The second half is when senior guard Marcus Tibbs heated up. Decatur’s leading scorer tallied 13 of his 17 points in the third and fourth quarters and tallied five points during a 9-0 run midway through the third to give Decatur a 38-25 lead with 5:25 left.

But the Gators couldn’t put away Kentridge. The Chargers rallied late to make it a game. A 16-8 run cut the Decatur lead to 50-45 with 2:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. But Tibbs struck again by scoring eight points in the final 2:12, including four huge free throws in the last 22.3 seconds to seal the victory.

“Ever since last year, I like the fourth quarter,” Tibbs said. “I let Michael (Hale) and Darious (Walker) get off during the first three quarters and then the fourth quarter is where I mostly come in.”

Tibbs, a first-team, All-SPSL North performer a year ago, was basically held in check during the first half by one of the better defenders in the league — Brandon Turner. The 6-foot-3 Turner is one of the top football recruits in the state and draws the opposing team’s top scorer every game.

“Brandon was just playing good defense,” said Tibbs, who also had six assists. “He’s a good defender. But the fourth quarter came and we just outworked them.”

The win over the Chargers was also huge for the confidence of the fifth-ranked Gators. Kentridge edged out Decatur for the SPSL North championship a season ago thanks, in large part, to a win on Decatur’s home floor.

“It’s a big rivalry,” Walker said. “They beat us at our house last year. This will give us a boost and more confidence.”

Decatur 70, Inglemoor 60 (Saturday)

Walker’s 31 points led Decatur to its second consecutive win against a top-10 team in as many nights at the Les Schwab Hoop Challenge Saturday at Bellevue Community College. Walker made 15 of 19 shots and also had 12 rebounds for the Gators.

Decatur rolled out to a 29-23 lead at halftime and cruised in the second half against the sixth-ranked Vikings in a non-league contest. Tibbs added 18 points and Schilling tallied nine.

Inglemoor was led by the 22 points of University of Nevada signee Mark McLaughlin.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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