When it comes to Bayside Championship games and Stephen Decatur, memories of 2014 and 2016 are probably ones most Seahawks fans would rather leave behind. More specifically, in their Bayside Championship game appearance in 2014, holding a three-point lead with less than a second left, their opponent, Easton, drained a half-court shot to force overtime and eventually won by three.
Fast forward to 2016, Decatur was in another tough position. Due to eventual Class 1A state champion Pocomoke and Decatur having identical records, a coin flip determined which South team would play in the championship game. Decatur was on the wrong side of that coin flip and had to spectate instead.
Since that moment, No. 2 Decatur is on mission to take care of “unfinished business,” and Wednesday night they started step No. 1 in that process with a lopsided 71-43 win over No. 25 Kent County to win their first ever Bayside Championship.
“We treat every game the same, we come out and play hard,” Decatur forward Keve Aluma said after scoring 17 points.
Led by a handful of rebounds, two made free throws and a monster block that sent a Kent County shot flying across the court, Aluma and the Decatur squad set the tempo in the first quarter taking an early 10-2 lead. Just when it seemed Decatur had a comfortable lead to end the first, Kent County’s Marquan Greene and Manny Camper started to cut through the Seahawk defense while drawing fouls to bring it to 13-9.
With some momentum rolling into the second quarter, Kent County cut the Seahawks lead to one with five minutes until halftime and appeared to be a big momentum swing.
As Decatur’s big-man has done all season, Aluma brought the house down with an electrifying off the backboard two-hand slam to bring the crowd energy back to Decatur’s side. Kent County showed they weren’t affected by this swing in momentum, however, and fought back to take a 22-21 lead with 3:12 remaining in the half. Ultimately, their lead was short-lived and the Seahawks went on a momentous run to take 32-24 lead into the break.
Coming out of the locker room for the second half, Kent County showed some new energy and quickly trimmed Decatur’s lead to four. Unfortunately for the Trojans, this was the closest they got for the rest of the game. The Seahawks, led by Gary Briddell, who finished with a game-high 21 points, eventually clamped down and spurred a 49-31 lead as the third quarter neared the end.
Just when it seemed like nothing went right for Kent County, their night went from bad to worse. Manny Camper, a major key for the Trojans, awkwardly landed on his leg and instantly went down to the floor with an apparent knee injury. Camper was quickly helped off the court and proceeded back to the locker room, where his night was over. Once play resumed, Decatur ended the third quarter with a 51-37 lead.
The fourth quarter proved to be all Decatur as they outscored Kent County 20-6 to close out the 28-point title rout.
Going into the playoffs, Decatur holds the No. 1 seed in the 3A East Section II. This win, along with home court advantage and a 20-plus win regular season, should make the Seahawks a tough team to beat going down the stretch.
When asked what the Seahawks expectations are heading into March, Decatur coach Bryon Johnson replied confidently:
“To win. Bottom line, that’s our expectations.”