The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
To win a place in Port Arthur Memorial head coach Travis Williams’ basketball heart is easy: play great defense.
Senior guard Albert Jacobs III relishes his role as a defensive stopper for the Titans, which is one of many reasons why he has been inserted in the starting lineup in the second half of this season.
“He didn’t want to start at first,” Williams said. “He wanted to come off the bench. For us to get better, we needed for him to start. He finally came up to coach (Lance) Robertson and myself and said, ‘I’m ready to start.’ We’ve gone from there. We put him on the other team’s best player. He wants to be there.”
Jacobs takes pride in making sure the man he’s defending doesn’t score. But, he’s also capable of making impact-type plays for the Titans, like the moment in Tuesday’s victory over North Shore. In the fourth quarter, Jacobs was isolated on Mustang guard Jalin Hart at the top of the key as Hart attempted to slow Memorial’s comeback. With no help around him, Jacobs slid to his right as Hart tried to drive around him, reached out his hand and popped the ball free behind Hart’s back.
Jacobs pounced on the ball before leading a fast break that resulted in a Titan layup.
“I take defense seriously,” Jacobs said. “That’s the biggest part of the game. You have to have energy. I try to not let anyone score on me. I like to shut people down. When we need one stop, I want to be the one to make it.”
While junior guard Torian Lott and sophomore Dorian Chatman are Memorial’s leading scorers, Jacobs provides such a diverse range of skills when he’s on the court. The quintessential “glue” guy, Jacobs does so many things to help the Titans offense and defense go, like locking down his opponent on defense, driving to the hoop or dishing off for an easy bucket.
That makes him a perfect option to come off the bench, like he did for much of last season and for the first half of this one. Williams said he talked with assistant head coach Lance Robertson about sticking Jacobs into the starting lineup.
The move just made sense.
“If he’s open, he needs to shoot more,” Williams said. “When people key on Torian, we need someone else to hit some shots. He’d rather pass the ball. He can break you down and get into the paint, too. We want to be in attack mode, but we also need to keep defenders guessing by knocking down big shots outside.”
Robertson, who helps with the team’s offense, pushed Jacobs to shoot more. As a natural distributor, Jacobs regularly leads the team in assists. He was encouraged by the coaching staff to take more shots, as teams key on Chatman down low and send multiple defenders at Lott on the perimeter.
Jacobs responded well and has hit big 3-pointers against both Deer Park and North Shore recently.
“At first, I wasn’t comfortable with it,” Jacobs said. “Now, I’m comfortable. Coach Lance has been telling me to shoot a lot from the outside. It’s starting to fall for me now. When I need to shoot, I’ll shoot and when I need to pass, I can still set up my teammates.”
In a high school sports world where most athletes specialize and only play one sport year-round, Jacobs plays both football and basketball. He competed last season in the Memorial football 7-on-7 team that went to College Station for the state championship tournament. At the same time, Jacobs plays on a travel basketball team based in Beaumont to keep sharp there.
After catching 32 passes for 460 yards and two touchdowns for the football team in 2012, Jacobs re-joined the basketball team after the Titans lost to Manvel in the bidistrict round. The transition between sports took a little time as Jacobs adjusted to basketball conditioning.
“I’ve been playing multiple sports all my life,” Jacobs said. “I’m used to it. It’s a little tougher when I got back. They work us hard, and I had to get used to it. It’s different conditioning. You do a lot of running.”
Over and over this season, coaches and players talk about how this Memorial team clicks because there are no real superstars and the team is bigger than the individuals. That may be due to the seven different juniors who have played roles this year, including Jacobs and Lott.
Having experience playing together for years means something to Jacobs, and may be a reason why this team’s chemistry works so well.
“We’ve been playing together since we were young kids,” Jacobs said. “We’ve got a lot of chemistry together. It helps a lot. Playing with my friends, they help me a lot. They keep me working hard and keep pushing me.”
NOTES: The son of Sametra Boone and Albert Jacobs, Jr., Jacobs made second team all-district as a wide receiver this season. He was also named to the second team all-district basketball team last season as a sophomore. ... Memorial clinched a playoff spot, but doesn’t know where they may end up seeded. The Titans are tied with Channelview in third place and are a game behind Beaumont West Brook with three to play.