DECATUR -- When the officials blew their whistles Monday night, they set in motion an event that has been missing from the Decatur basketball scene for nearly four years.
The Decatur Invitational Basketball Tournament, formerly the Decatur Holiday Hoops, kicked off a three-day basketball extravaganza that pitted teams from all over Northwest Arkansas and one from the river valley.
Teams participating in the boys' event included Decatur, Ozark Catholic Academy, Arts Academy, Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy. St. Paul, Fort Smith Future School, Fayetteville Christian and Haas Hall-Fayetteville.
Decatur closed out day one against the Haas Hall-Fayetteville Mastiffs at Peterson Gym Nov. 15. The Bulldogs jumped out in front during the first quarter and never looked back as they defeated the Mastiffs, 56-35, to advance to the winners' bracket in the next round.
Leading the fight for the Bulldogs was team captain Christian Ramirez with 12 points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals, followed by Edgar Herrera with 11 points and two rebounds, JJ Herrera with nine points and two rebounds. Other Bulldogs contributing to the scoring effort were Deegan Brooks with eight, Enrique Rubi with five, Ben Watkins with four and Landon Watson with three. Rounding out the scoring were Robert Thang and Andres Revolorio each with two.
Next up the Bulldogs squared off against the Arkansas Arts Academy Diamonds in the first winners' bracket on Thursday night.
The first quarter saw the Diamonds and Bulldogs go neck to neck until the closing two minutes when the Diamonds surged ahead and took a 19-12 lead going into the next quarter. In the second, the game slowed down a bit with the Bulldogs cutting into the Diamond lead by three, 23-20 going into the break.
Nothing changed until the fourth quarter when the Diamonds went on a 23-13 run over the Bulldogs to take the win, 60-46, and advance into the championship round. But Decatur was still in the tournament, advancing to the fifth-place game played on Saturday.
Leading the Decatur Bulldogs in double figures was Ramirez with 22 points and four rebounds, followed by Brooks with 10 points and 10 rebounds, Edger Herrera with eight, Revolorio with four and Rubi with two.
The Bulldogs faced the St. Paul Saints Saturday afternoon in the gym at Decatur Middle School. It was all Saints as they rolled over the Decatur Bulldogs for the win.
The final contest of the tournament saw the Ozark Catholic Academy Griffins take on the Arts Academy Diamonds for the tournament championship. It was all Griffins as they took the win, 65-34. This was Griffin Coach Cody Vaught's third Decatur tournament win. When Vaught coached at West Fork, Vaught won back-to-back Decatur Holiday Hoops championships and one runner-up to Gravette.