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Decatur's Tibbs granted fifth year of basketball eligibility
By CASEY OLSON
The Decatur Gators boys basketball team will officially have a familiar face back on the court when practice kicks off Nov. 17.
Marcus Tibbs was granted a fifth year of eligibility Friday afternoon by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. The 6-foot-1 guard instantly makes the Gators a contender in the South Puget Sound League South Division and gives them a better shot at playing at the Class 4A State Tournament for the third-straight season.
The WIAA, the governing body of high school sports in the state, informed Decatur athletic director Kelly Kirk Friday afternoon that Tibbs would be eligible to play the upcoming 2008-09 basketball season as a senior. Tibbs was forced to go to the WIAA state office after an appeal in front of the West Central District was denied.
"It was just nerve-racking," Tibbs said. "I was nervous."
This will be the third season in a row that Decatur will be counting on a fifth-year senior. In 2006, Steadman Richardson received an extra year of eligibility and last season, forward Darious Walker, was granted a fifth year.
Tibbs has had an ultra-impressive three-year career at Decatur. The 6-foot-1 guard earned first-team, All-SPSL honors following both 2007 and 2008 seasons after leading the Gators to two-straight appearances at the Class 4A State Boys Basketball Championships.
Last season, Tibbs led Decatur in scoring at 18.3 points a game and scored in double figures in 28 of the Gators' 30 games, including 12 20-point games.
His biggest scoring game of the year came during a loser-out, West Central District game against Central Kitsap on Feb. 19, when he poured in 32 of Decatur's 63 points.
He was also solid during the 2008 state tournament, leading Decatur into the state semifinals and an eventual sixth-place finish. He was named all-tournament, first-team after averaging 16.7 points inside the Tacoma Dome, including 22 during a semifinal loss to Federal Way.
He was also named the Mirror's co-player of the year last season, along with Federal Way's Aaron Broussard.
During the 2006-07 season, Tibbs averaged 17 points, five rebounds and nearly three assists a game and was a key reason why the Gators won the coveted West Central District championship.
Tibbs will join a talented group of returners for the Gators, which includes forward Cam Schilling, sophomore wing Jerron Smith, junior forward Jordan McCloud and point guard Terrell Williams.
"I just want to win this season," Tibbs said. "I don't really care about me and putting up stats. I just want to make the team better."
Following last season, Tibbs was all set to attend Eastern Washington University to play basketball. The Eagle coaching staff offered him the chance to walk on as a freshman and were set to grant him a full-ride scholarship during his second year.
But when the school went to put together all Tibbs' paperwork, the Eastern athletic director realized they had no scholarships to offer for the 2009-10 season because they were going to be penalized by the NCAA because of poor academic performance, according to Olson.
"They contacted Marcus and said they didn't know if they would have a scholarship for him," he said. "It became a real mess."
But, come to find out, Tibbs was three classes short of graduating from Decatur, thanks to a freshman school year that saw him fail seven classes.
"He has checked his ego in at the door and sits in four freshman classes this semester," Olson said. "This will greatly help his opportunity to enroll in a four-year school."
"I just have to do it," Tibbs said about taking classes this year with freshmen at Decatur. "It's my fault for not doing stuff my freshman year."
It was during that ninth-grade year that Tibbs ran into all his academic issues. He was ineligible to compete in sports the entire school year because of a death in the family.
"His hardship is legit," Olson said. "There are definitely some things going on in his life during that freshman year which affected his ability to perform in the classroom."
According to the WIAA handbook, a hardship exists only when some unique circumstances concerning the student’s physical or emotional status exist and only when such circumstances are not the result of acts or actions by the student or family unit. Usual maturation problems or family situations that do not cause severe and abnormal emotional problems and academic or athletic deficiencies in a school’s curriculum or extracurricular activities do not constitute a hardship.
Tibbs had his eligibility hearing before the WIAA on Wednesday, where he was able to present his case to the Eligibility Committee.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org