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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Mike Eckels Decatur’s Kyle Shaffer (#30) drives towards the basket during the Bulldog-Tiger matchup at Peterson Gym in Decatur Nov.12. West Fork defeated Decatur, 47 to 26.

DECATUR -- Expectations ran high as the Decatur Bulldogs boys' basketball program opened its 2015-16 season at Peterson Gym in Decatur Nov.12.

"We are excited about this year's team," said John Unger, head basketball coach. "We won't have the experience we have had the past 3 years, but the exciting part is that we have guys that want to compete and play hard and get better every day. I know we will give everything we have every day and continue to improve each game."

With the graduation of Mario and Victor Urquidi last May, many felt that this year's basketball program would suffer. But Unger feels confident that his teams will get the job done and bring home another conference championship.

"We have a core group that will stay together and only get better," Unger said. "This year's team will be different than last year's for sure, but we still have high expectations and I honestly think that this group will be fun to coach and have a chance to have some success. We are looking forward to the season and the process of getting better each day."

Decatur fans had a chance to see their seventh grade, junior high and varsity basketball teams in action as they faced the 3A West Fork Tigers.

Unfortunately, for the Bulldogs, the Tigers handed the seventh grade and junior high teams their first lose of the season, defeating both by more than 20 points.

The varsity boys started out slow during the first quarter of play. West Fork was the first to score, followed by the Bulldogs a few seconds later. The Tigers pulled ahead by six late in the first quarter. However, a pair of three-point shots by junior Bracy Owens tied the game at 10 at the end of the first quarter.

Then West Fork, a much stronger team this season, opened up the lead in the second quarter, holding the Bulldogs to a single point. West Fork took a 25 to 11 lead into the break.

The Bulldogs tried to fight back in the third, but the Tigers continued to open up their lead, 32 to 16, at the end of the third.

Decatur started playing more aggressively in the final quarter, but it was too little, too late, as the West Fork Tigers handed the Bulldogs their first lost of the season, 47 to 26.

Leading scorer was Bracy Owens with 6, followed by Leng Lee with 4, Jaffet Puga with 4, Taylor Haisman with 3, Kyle Shaffer with 3, Jay Porter with 3, Troy Flood with 2 and Wyatt Bingham with 1.

For West Fork, C. Roebke 19, R. Roebke 16, Yates 7, Treat 3 and Bayley 2.

The Decatur senior girls opened their season during the Green Forest tournament Nov. 9 when they played Marshall. The final score was 65 to 9. They next played St. Joe on Nov. 11. There, the team fared a little better but still lost the game 60 to 20. These were the first games for new girls' coach Jeff Melton.

Melton feels confident that, with time, the senior girls will continue to improve, especially with the help of his new assistant coach Jo Jo Tibben, who is a teacher's aide at Decatur Northside Elementary.

"Coach Tibben has been helping me for the last two weeks and did travel to Green Forest for the the second game," Melton said. "She was and will continue to be a tremendous help for this program. I'd love for you to get a conversation going with her sometime about her involvement with the development of this program."

The senior boys and girls will play Watts, Okla., Nov. 20 at home in Peterson Gym. Games start at 4 p.m.

For a complete schedule of all Bulldog basketball teams go to decatursc.com/athletic.

Sports on 11/18/2015

Print Headline: Decator tips off basketball season

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