In the annals of Lamar State College-Port Arthur basketball history, one rivalry continues to rear its head — Seahawks vs. San Jacinto College Ravens.
Once more, the two teams face off in a critical Region XIV contest as the South Zone leaders battle for supremacy. Both teams are tied at No. 1 in the South with 5-2 records in conference play. The game tips off today at 4 p.m. at San Jac’s Anders Gymnasium. The game can be seen live in streaming video at http://athletics.lamarpa.edu with the pre-game show starting at 3:30 p.m.
During the course of the 2013-14 basketball season, the Seahawks have made more than their fair share of trips to deep East Texas to face off against the North Zone foes of Region XIV, escaping with an impressive league mark. Now they focus squarely on dominating the South and start off with the Ravens.
“They are a good offensive team, just like we are,” Lamar State-Port Arthur coach Lance Madison said. “Hopefully we will make better decisions on offense than they will. This game will come down to execution.”
A year ago, the Ravens managed to edge the Seahawks twice, winning in Pasadena 89-85 and in the Parker Center on a last-second fall-away jumper 80-78. “Basketball is a game of runs,” Madison said. “Last year we were up 15 points and they went on a run to close that gap and eventually won the game. We have to keep our composure Saturday.”
The Ravens are 13-4 overall and recently defeated No. 3 nationally-ranked Kilgore, handing the Rangers their only loss of the season. San Jac is 11-2 at Anders Gym this season. The Ravens are led on offense by a trio of players, sophomore Carrington Ward and freshmen Anthony Livingston and Michael Hunter.
Ward, a guard, averages 17.8 points a game with an average of nearly four rebounds a game, while Livingston, at forward, is hitting for 17.5 ppg with a team-leading 10.1 rebounds. Hunter, who plays guard, averages 10.5 points a game.
“They are playing a lot better than they were earlier in the year,” Madison said. “They have some good guards who can score and their bigs can face up and score. We’ll have to go over there and play well to win.”
The Seahawks certainly have the tools to do just that. This season, the Hawks are ranked No. 5 in the nation in scoring with 100.9 points a game. Leading that charge is sophomore guard Tre Bennett, who is ranked No. 13 in the nation with 21.3 points a game. During Wednesday’s 124-90 win over Houston Community College, Bennett scored a double-double performance with 19 points and 10 assists.
However, he is just one of five players who can light up the scoreboard with double-figure performances this season.
Sophomore forward Jamal Shabazz is hitting for 15.3 points a game with 6.3 rebounds per outing.
“Jamal is a good stretch-forward,” Madison said. “He can pick and pop or he can put it on the floor and drive it, and he’s a good rebounder. He’s a good shooter and that makes it hard to double-down on (center) Anthony (Allen), which makes us stronger in the post.”
In fact, over the past month, the strength of Allen’s play has exploded as the 7-foot-1 sophomore center focused on a stronger move to the basket.
“Anthony wants the ball,” Madison said. “He’s getting stronger, getting more confidence. He’s playing deeper in to the basket and he’s getting a better touch. That’s what he’s needed all season and he’s finding his game right now.”
Allen, who leads the nation in shot-block average at 5.6 a game, is scoring 11.1 points a game. In December, he was hitting for 7.5 points a game but in January has averaged 13 points a game, improving his field goal shooting percentage from 64.2 percent to 84 percent during that same period.
Freshman guard JoJo Mooring is scoring 14.2 points a game and sophomore D.J. Blanks is hitting for 12.6 ppg. Sophomore forward/center Ivan Jelencic is the team’s leading rebounder with 8.4 boards a game, scoring 8.4 points a game.