Helping Our Student Athletes Bring Their "A" Game.
A Night Like No Other
Largest Crowd Ever Turns Out For Historic First Night at 'The Spike'
The first thing that crossed our minds late Friday afternoon, as the Decatur girls prepared to play the first varsity basketball game ever in our new gymnasium, the first on-campus game in nearly 50 years, was this: what would make a concise, piquant designation for this sparkling new venue. The official name, of course, is the Decatur High School Performing Arts Center and Gymnasium, but brother that's a mouthful. After all, Ted Turner Field is "The Ted," and Clemson's football field is Death Valley, the Decatur Recreation Center is The Rec, and Emory's Woodruff Physical Education Center is the Wood Pec.
So what to call our new arena? With apologies to Emory, "The Pac-Gym" came to mind, but that seems rather bland. It's important to note that when he helped design the floor and seating configuration, basketball coach and athletic director Carter Wilson wanted a distinctive color and emotional layout. He wanted to leave no doubt in the minds of opponents whose house they were visiting. Given that, we like "The Spike," simply because the Bulldog mascot is the most prevalent symbol displayed. It seems like he's everywhere you turn, most prominently at mid-court flashing those fine, white teeth. We like the idea of an opposing coach shaking his head and saying, "My gosh, we gotta go play at The Spike tonight," or, "We're gonna get thrown to The Spike tonight."
However, we don't want to take full responsibility here. If you, our faithful readers, have an idea for an arena nickname, write to the newsletter and we will publish your thoughts and maybe somewhere down the road take a vote. Does that mean such a nickname would grace the new arena's gleaming edifice facing McDonough St.? No it does not, but we think it would be fun coming up with one.
Meantime, Friday was quite a night, which included victories by both boys and girls teams, and a moving, finely-orchestrated between-games ceremony where five jersey numbers were unveiled (two of those "honored" and three previously retired) on the newly-minted "Wall of Honor." Also unveiled was the actual mid-court circle of the old gym, Decatur's home from 1941 to 1959, which was torn down nearly two years ago to make room for this new jewel. Finally, there was the largest crowd in the history of Decatur basketball. We don't have an official tally, though we'd guess in the neighborhood of 1200 to 1500. Maybe more. People were everywhere, the most impressive representation coming from students, many of whom stood near the floor wearing white and blue face paint and jumping around like those Cameron Crazies at Duke. Meantime, a number of folks chose to linger alongside the railing on the upper level. It was quite a sight, if you started at the floor and ran your eyes up the stands, taking in the full sweep of both end zone bleachers, and then finally to the top railing which extends the entire circumference of the arena.
"I think everything turned out exactly the way I wanted," said Coach Wilson, who's been associated with Decatur High as a student, player, assistant coach and head coach since the late 1960s. "I'm sure our players don't exactly understand the significance of what tonight was about. In fact, I probably don't fully comprehend it myself. But I suspect that in the coming weeks and years, the full impact will dawn on us, and in the end we'll have something we'll never forget the rest of our lives."
Less memorable was the actual game, a 70-41 thrashing of Tech High. Essentially only two things really stand out about the actual contest. First, all 12 players saw playing time on this historic first night, and better yet, all scored. Here's the breakdown: Chris Hawthorne-3 points; Shaq Baker-3; Ron Boyd-6; James Bradbury-5; Garrison Hardy-4; Dujon Parker-8; Mike Goodman-3; Trumon Jefferson-12; Cordele Jackson-6; DeAndre Smith-3; Nic Wilson-14; Cameron Parker-4.
Second, and probably nearly as historic as the actual night itself, was the fact that coach Wilson opened in a 2-3 zone. As he later told Nic, his visibly-shocked son, it was the first time in 30 years coaching he'd ever done that. When we asked him why in the world he chose to christen The Spike with a zone defense, he enigmatically remarked, "No comment. Let me just say there's a method to the madness." It seemed mostly the latter, especially when, midway through the first quarter, he switched to a 1-3-1- a zone defense that was all the rage in 1947 - and at this point we began thinking the coach had dipped a little too freely into the pre-game punch. The giddiness wore off in the second quarter when Wilson finally employed his trademark man-to-man. In truth, as far as Tech was concerned, it really wouldn't have mattered what defense Decatur played on this night.
The Bulldogs are now 2-0 heading into their rematch against St. Francis, a team they beat 57-45 last Tuesday. Game time is 7:30 this Tuesday at the new arena (or The Spike, or the Pac-Gym). Meantime, while you're thinking up potential nicknames, here's Decatur's upcoming schedule:
Dec. 1: at Grady 7:00
Dec. 4: W.D. Mohammed 7:00 (home)
Dec. 8: Greater Atlanta Christian 7:00 (home-first regional game)
One of our favorite all-time films is the unparalleled 1970 comic masterpiece, "Evil Roy Slade." Man, we start laughing every time we think of this film. Evil Roy, played by John Astin, is the most evil man in the wild west. At one point late in the film, Roy waxes nostalgic about his very first bank robbery, where he frantically gathered mementos like the first safe he blew up, the first bank teller he slapped, the first baby he kicked, the first window he shot out, etc. "I was so busy gathering mementos," Roy told his gang, "I almost forgot to take the money and run."
With due respect to Evil Roy, here are some mementos from the first night at The Spike:
Very First Basket Ever: Isis Brown, 5-7 senior on the girls team, 45 seconds into the game
First Boys Basket: Trumon Jefferson, junior, 3-pointer 13 seconds into the game
First Dunk: Trumon, right-handed, on a breakaway with 5:59 left in the first quarter
First Missed Dunk: Trumon, also right-handed (give the young man credit; on this historic night, the naturally left-handed Trumon was consciously working on his game)
First Sibling Baskets: Sisters Jabreal Alford (senior) and Queen Alford (sophomore), both in the first period. Jabreil, incidentally, finished with 14 points, while Queen had 17.
First Official House Theif, Thus Earning the Unofficial Evil Roy Slade Award: Queen, who had eight steals.
First Basket by a Freshman: Cordele Jackson, 6-3 point forward, hit a free throw with two minutes left in the first half. In fact, Cordele scored the first 6 points of his career. Like Al Kaline, who never played single minor league baseball game, Cordele seems destined for greatness without playing a minute of freshman or junior varsity ball.
First Number Unveiled on the Wall of Honor: 10, worn by Don Keiser who played on the 1957 state championship team. Keiser, who now lives in Rome, grew up on McDonough St. near Pharr. He was the state's leading scorer his senior season, averaging nearly 24 points, and later went on to stardom at the University of Georgia. He is a very gracious and nice guy and still looks like he could nail a three pointer (which they didn't have in his day).
On Numbers Honored and Retired
There may be some confusion regarding the nuances of a number retired vs. a number honored. Let's try to clear this up. Here are the three officially retired basketball numbers at Decatur High, each retired after the player's senior year, and none will ever be worn again:
- Don Keiser, #10, number retired in 1957.
- Mike Dickerson, #22, retired 1972. Dickerson, among the several school records he still holds, scored a single-game high of 54 points. "I know how many points he scored," Carter Wilson said, "because I fed him most of those passes."
- Herb White, #32, retired in 1965 - White played for Georgia and the Atlanta Hawks and was once roommates with Pete Maravich.
These two numbers were officially honored Friday, but they will remain active:
- Pearl Worrell, #24, graduated 1972 (she passed away in 2005, and her plaque was accepted by her daughter Monica Trimble).
- Melvin "Hollywood" Howard, #20, graduated 1983.
Coach Wilson has said he doesn't want to retire more numbers because eventually there won't be any good ones left. Although, after everything was said and done Friday night, he did say, "I guess I should never say never. I might reconsider if somebody were to turn into a beast and lead me to the state championship."
Directions to all opponents' sites may be found on the DHS and RMS sports Web pages and the CSD Web calendar
Monday, 23 November
- DHS SLT Meeting, DHS Media Center, 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, 24 November
- JV Boys Basketball vs. St. Francis, DHS Gym, 4:30 p.m.
- V Girls Basketball vs. St. Francis, DHS Gym, 6:00 p.m.
- V Boys Basketball vs. St. Francis, DHS Gym, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 25 November - Sunday 29, November: Thanksgiving Break
Decatur Bulldog Boosters