Basketball: Gators take down Kentridge; face Tahoma for NPSL crown

The Decatur Gators remain undefeated in NPSL play after their 11 point win over Kentridge, 50-39. The Gators handed the Chargers their second league loss this season.

“It’s a big win. It feels good. It is the type of win you got home and brag about it until the next one,” said Gator junior Tamairah Allen.

Entering the contest against the Chargers, Decatur has been the only girls team in the entire NPSL to score over 80 points in a game, which they have done twice. The Tahoma Bears have scored exactly 80 points twice this season, but have yet to break that milestone.

Kentridge and the Gators were set for a highly contested matchup Jan. 27, but Decatur was slightly favored in the affair. Decatur led Kentridge in every RPI metric entering the game — the one separating statistic was Kentridge, on average, only allowed 39 points a game.

The first quarter was a defensive slugfest, with neither team scoring double digits. Decatur led after the first quarter, 9-5.

Kentridge Head Coach Brad McDowell showed his respect at the end of the game for the Gators defense: “Their claim to fame is defense as well, so when you have to score and things aren’t falling… It makes it tough.”

During the second quarter, Kentridge got rolling, and Decatur started struggling. The Chargers scored the Gators’ entire first half total of 18 in the second quarter alone. Decatur seemingly had lost all their momentum, but was saved by the halftime horn, which gave them the ability to slow the game down and regroup, only down 18-23.

“I reminded them there is a lot of game left. We’re going to be all right. … We’re battle tested, we’ve been here a long time,” said Coach Elon Langston.

At the end of the quarter, Decatur still trailed, 27-30. But most importantly, they were back in the game. The Gators got back in the game by playing excellent defense in the half. The defense was led by junior Tamairah Allen, who had four steals in the second half alone.

“It’s all instincts,” Allen said about her defensive play.

Decatur’s first lead since the first quarter came with 5:55 left in the game on a junior Avionna Caldwell lay-up, putting Decatur out front, 33-32.

“Defense is our MO … Once we stepped our defense up one possession at a time, we kept chipping away. We knew our offense would take care of itself,” Coach Langston said.

The rest of the game was all Gators down the stretch, much due to Tamairah Allen. All of her points were scored in the second half, and she finished the night with nine points, six steals and two rebounds.

Seniors Mandi Pham and Jewel Young also had spectacular nights as well. Pham had eight points, six rebounds and a steal. Meanwhile, Young had 13 points, five assists, two rebounds and a steal.

Decatur is in their toughest stretch of the season, and for Coach Langston, he couldn’t be more excited for his team.

“Once we got through the first part of the season, with these three games we know what time it is,” Langston said.

Decatur takes on Tahoma on Friday, Feb. 3, for a chance to win the NPSL regular season crown. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. at Decatur High School.