The Port Arthur News
To be the best, you have to beat the best. The Port Arthur Memorial girls basketball team is halfway there, beating the top-ranked team in Class 4A Beaumont Ozen 53-52 to win the YMBL South Texas Shootout on Saturday at the Montagne Center.
Memorial (12-2) beat Beaumont Central 45-40 earlier in the day to advance to the finals, before handing No. 1 Ozen (9-1) its first loss of the season. It was the first time in school history that the Lady Titans have won the YMBL championship.
“It’s great for our confidence,” Memorial head coach Kevin Henry said. “We have a lot of momentum right now. We have one more game before district and we want to finish. But, it’s big to play a powerhouse like Ozen and coming out on top. It’s great for our program and great for our girls. We’ve seen improvements week in and week out over the last two years and that’s all I can ask for.”
The victory was not assured until the final moments, however. With Memorial up 53-49 with 40.1 seconds left, Ozen’s Nekia Jones hit a big 3-pointer to make it 53-52. Memorial took the ball down the court on the next possession, but missed a shot instead of running the clock out.
That gave Ozen an opportunity, and the Lady Panthers brought the ball up with 10 seconds left. SanQueisha Rawls got a point blank shot at the basket that she missed, before Jerica Bolin grabbed the rebound and went up with a second shot that also fell short just before the buzzer sounded.
“We were able to attack their zone,” Henry, who was named the tournament’s Coach of the Year, said. “We weren’t attacking and stepping in the gaps early on. We were able to make them work a little harder, which opened up some shots for us from the outside. Defensively, we were able to mix some things up to give them a different look.”
After training 24-17 at the half, Henry’s team made a series of adjustments to Ozen’s 1-3-1 zone. The results were favorable, as the Lady Titans outscored Ozen 21-8 in that quarter and took their first lead of the game.
That happened when sophomore Tonya Sellers hit a layup in the paint to make it 31-30. Sellers followed that up with a nice finish after a good feed from Sommer Harris to put the Titans up 33-30.
At the same time as they were hitting shots and storming back, Memorial also clamped down on defense, holding Ozen to just 3 of 14 shooting and forcing the Lady Panthers to miss seven straight shots. That helped the Lady Titans turn a 30-27 deficit into a 38-32 lead by the end of the quarter.
“Our girls just came out and played,” Henry said. “They turned me they had it. It was gut-check time. On that last possession, we didn’t need to shoot it, but we did it anyway and turned it over. We had to get a defensive stop and we were able to do that. They had two chances, but we were able to get that last rebound.”
Ariel Hutchinson led the Lady Titans in scoring with 14 points, also earning a spot on the all-tournament team. Crystal Sallier added 10 points while Harris had 11. Tournament MVP and sophomore Joyce Kennerson had six points while all-tournament pick Dorceive Davis had four.
Ozen’s Jerica Bolin and Nekia Jones were both named to the all-tournament team.
In other action Saturday, the Nederland Bulldogs struggled over the final eight minutes en route to a 54-46 loss to Beaumont Central in the boys semifinals Saturday.
Central started the fourth on a 9-2 run, extending what was just two point deficit at the end of the third out to nine at 48-39. NHS didn't hit its first field goal of the frame until Jared Lorimier connected with 1:55 left
in the game.
Lorimier finished with 10 points, and Garrison Mitchell led Central with 16.Nederland’s Colton Weisbrod led all scorers with 20 points, and Kirby Hanley had 10.
Nederland (5-3) won the third place game against Beaumont West Brook 65-51.
Port Arthur Memorial (3-4) lost 66-57 to Silsbee in a championship bracket extra game. The PN-G boys lost to West Orange-Stark 61-35 in the consolation bracket extra game.
Dallas Madison 55, Beaumont Central 50
Madison 61, Beaumont West Brook 48
Central 54, Nederland 46
New Orleans Walker 52, Lufkin 43
Lufkin 52, Fort Bend Hightower 43
New Orleans Walker 75, Houston Wheatley 64
Consolation extra games
Fort Bend Ridge Point 58, Little Cypress-Mauriceville 43
PA Memorial 53, Ozen 52
Hardin Jefferson 44, Central 43
Memorial 45, Central 40
Galveston Ball 46, Orangefield 26
Galveston Ball 46, La Marque 42
Orangefield 51, Dayton 48