OBITUARIES: Decatur | Shoals | Huntsville
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Eagles on the rise
DHCA reclaiming spot as Class 1A playoff contender
Daily photo by Brennen Smith.
Travis Case doesn’t consider his team particularly athletic.

Instead, he considers the Decatur Heritage boys basketball team “average.”

“We are not athletic enough when we step up on the floor, probably against anyone that we play, where we have stronger, faster athletes than them,” Case said.

Since starting as boys basketball coach in 2010, not only has Case re-established the Eagles as yearly postseason contenders, he has worked to make the team competitive on every level.

Coming off of a four-win season in 2009, in Case’s first year as head coach, the team rose to third in the area and finished with 16 wins. The Eagles won 24 games last season and advanced to the Class 1A Northwest Regional for the first time since 2009.

This season, Decatur Heritage Christian Academy (14-5, 4-0 in Class 1A, Area 14) has emerged as a fighting underdog, with wins against teams from larger schools, such as Muscles Shoals, Vinemont and Danville.

Style of play and attitude both factor into the team’s success, but for Case, it has never been about winning.

“All of the lessons I learned, I learned from sports,” he said. “My goal is if we don’t make it out of area, if we get beat at regionals, that these boys take something that they can use for the rest of their life.”

When Case looked at the boys team, he was reminded of UAH, a team he played against as a player at North Alabama.

“It was going back and thinking, ‘Why were they so difficult? Why were they so hard to defend?’ ” he said.

Looking to strategy over size, Case hoped his team could employ the same Princeton offense, a read-based strategy that relies on teamwork and constant motion, adjusting to any team’s type of play.

“It’s real hard to run. Sometimes I think that it might be a little bit over us, but we’ll get it,” Case said.

To execute this complicated plan, working together underscores the team’s success or failure. After losing the first two games of the season, the group sat down to evaluate its performance.

“Now we’re coming together, and we’re always stressing effort,” said Lee Godwin, the team’s senior point guard, when asked how the team has changed since losing the first two games.

Though Case doesn’t stress one game as more important than any other, he did admit that playing against teams from larger schools has strengthened the Eagles’ performance.

“When you play against teams that may not be as well established, you can mess up and win,” Godwin said. “When you’re playing against good, solid teams, you mess up and it costs you two points on the other end.”

For the season, Decatur Heritage has marked a 42.4 percent shooting average, led by Tyde Coffey, who averages 15.3 points and six rebounds per game. Nathan Lee follows, averaging 10.9 points and six rebounds.

“When you set a goal, it’s doing the little things day after day to reach that goal,” Case said. “We go out with a mindset that we’re going to leave it on the court.”

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