The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Any doubt on whether the Port Arthur Memorial girls basketball team would come out flat on Senior Night with a district title on the line were erased with a brilliant first quarter.
The Lady Titans outscored Baytown Sterling 20-0 in the opening period and then doubled that lead by the end of the game, beating the Lady Rangers 73-33 Friday at Memorial Gym.
With the victory, Memorial clinches a share of the District 21-5A title along with North Shore and Channelview, who all finished with 10-2 records. It’s Memorial’s second straight district title, after sharing one last season with North Shore.
The teams will meet Wednesday to decide on tiebreaker scenarios. The most likely outcome would see the three teams playing a short tournament, with the No. 1 seed receiving a bye and the second and third seeds playing on Friday night before a final game Saturday.
“It’s always good to win,” Memorial head coach Kevin Henry said. “To win on your home court on Senior Night and to seal it with a district championship? That’s the cherry on top.”
The Lady Titans (26-5, 10-2) used a three-quarters court trap to jump out to a big lead in the first quarter. Senior guard Crystal Sallier led the way with four steals on her own in the first quarter. Memorial ended the period with nine steals and six assists, shooting 9 of 24 from the floor.
Sallier contributed in all phases of the game by scoring 10 points, grabbing eight steals and dishing out four assists. The Lady Titans ended the evening by forcing 30 Sterling turnovers and grabbing 22 steals.
“I had a concern before the game,” Henry said. “I didn’t think we were focused. But, they stepped out there and showed me they were focused. I really liked the way we played. We held them to zero points in the first quarter. To come out and put 20 up and hold someone to zero, that’s a great start for anybody.”
Memorial’s offense was also clicking throughout the game, as the Lady Titans made 49.2 percent of their shots on 31 of 63 shooting. They also totaled 19 assists, including 13 in the first half alone on 18 first-half field goals.
Both Joyce Kennerson and Sommer Harris had five assets to lead the Lady Titans, while Loren Evans had three and Ariel Hutchinson had two.
Four different Lady Titans scored in double-figures, led by Hutchinson’s 15. Freshman Jakira Ford had 10 points and six rebounds in limited minutes while Jamecia Shaw had 14.
“Crystal did a good job of setting her teammates up,” Henry said. “She and Joyce were both trying to move the ball around. We average about 14 or 15 assists a game, so to get 13 in a half, that’s pretty good.”
The Lady Titans held a 20-6 rebounding edge in the first half, but sophomore post Sidnee Land had a huge second half. She grabbed all 14 of her rebounds in the third and fourth quarters and single-handedly led the Lady Rangers to a 29-26 edge on the boards for the game.
Henry said that his two points of emphasis entering the final regular season game of the season were to rebound well and to avoid silly fouls.
“Our focus was rebounding,” Henry said. “The last couple of games, rebounding has been close, so we tried to eliminate second and third chances. We wanted to block out and attack the boards on defense with all five people. On the offensive end, we wanted to balance the floor.”
Baytown Sterling ends the season at 3-22 and 1-11 in district play.
Port Arthur Memorial 73, Baytown Sterling 33
BS 0 11 11 11 — 33
PAM 20 24 13 16 — 73
PAM: Ariel Hutchinson 15, Jamecia Shaw 14, Crystal Sallier 10, Jakira Ford 10, Joyce Kennerson 9, Loren Evans 8, Sommer Harris 3, Dorcieve Davis 2, Krystal Stevenson 2.
BS: Sidnee Land 14, Ariel Gilbert 8, Jaimee Kelly 4, Debbie Guillaume 4, Tyra Mouton 2, Carnisha Gilmore 2, Julia Plummer 2.
Statistics — Rebounds: Memorial 26 (Ford, Davis 6); Sterling 29 (Land 14). Assists: Memorial 19 (Kennerson, Harris 5); Sterling 3 (Allison Zamarron 2). Steals: Memorial 22 (Sallier 8); Sterling 4 (Gilbert 2). Turnovers: Memorial 13, Sterling 30. Fouls: Memorial 8, Sterling 7. 3-pointers made: Memorial 4 (Kennerson, Hutchinson, Shaw, Harris); Sterling 2 (Gilbert 2).
Records: Memorial (26-5, 10-2); Sterling (3-23, 1-11).