“Classic” is probably one of the most overused cliches in sports.
But Tuesday night before the largest crowd ever to watch a basketball game in the Dogdome, Central’s thrilling 57-54 victory over the Bulldogs has to be labeled a “classic” in every sense.
Even the most casual basketball fan this morning is probably still talking about one of the most hard-fought, knockdown dragout battles during the entire 2013-14 season.
Both Central and Nederland entered Tuesday at 11-2 in district play. A victory would have enabled Nederland to earn the second seed from 20-4A.
Making their sixth straight playoff appearance under coach Brian English, the Bulldogs (22-7, 11-3) will play District 19-4A runnerup Humble Summer Creek in bidistrict probably next Tuesday at either Barbers Hill or Hardin-Jefferson.
Ozen demolished Lumberton Tuesday, 122-58, and both BISD teams finished district at 12-2, a game ahead of the Bulldogs.
On Wednesday, the No. 1 playoff seed from 20-4A will be determined by a play-in game, a coin toss or one team conceding the top seed between the Beaumont schools.
But on a near-freezing and rainy Tuesday night, this 32-minute battle-royal between two outstanding and evenly matched high school teams was a thing of beauty.
“This is why I love coaching,” said English. “It was a great basketball game in a tremendous atmosphere between two good teams. I liked the fight in our team the entire night and it wasn’t any one thing that kept us from winning.”
The dog-fight (no pun intended) was a battle between Central’s junior duo of 6-7 wing E’Torrian Wilridge and point guard Jacory Guillory and Nederland’s seniors Colton Weisbrod and Tyler Toon.
Wilridge, rated the top junior prospect in the entire Greater Houston area and with several major college coaches in attendance, led the way with 24 points, while teammate Guillory added 14.
Toon’s 12-point third quarter (sinking 4-of-4 three-pointers) was so important because Weisbrod went to the bench with four fouls with 3:07 left in third. He returned with 4:45 of the fourth and the Bulldogs trailed by only three (48-45).
“It’s really tough for us to play over six minutes with Colton (Weisbrod) on the bench against anybody like Central,” English said. “I was so proud of our kids for hanging in there with our leading scorer on the bench. It showed so much fight from our players and I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Trailing by one entering the final quarter (44-43), Weisbrod made back-to-back baskets on the inside against the taller Jaguars after returning to the court with four fouls and nearly half the period remaining.
Weisbrod’s second of two straight field goals tied it at 50-50 with 2:54 left as the Nederland crowd howled in delight.
Weisbrod also had a tremendous steal at midcourt and he took it hard to the basket to tie it at 52-52 with 1:02 left. Central took a 54-52 lead on Garrison Mitchell’s FG in close with just 0:54.8 left to play.
Probably the key possession came next as Weisbrod went hard inside but came up short against the Central front line, but got his own rebound and put it up again in heavy traffic and came up short. Wilridge then hit a pair of free throws and Nijal Pearson connected on 1-of-2 from the line with just 16 seconds left.
Rushing down court, Weisbrod missed an off-balance three, Nederland got the rebound and missed from 14 feet, then got its third straight rebound and Toon’s desperation shot in the final second came up short.
“They played me more physical this time around (he had 31 in the first round win over the Jags),” said Weisbrod. “I had to have a mindset to just keep pounding inside.”
Asked of his team’s emotional state, he said, “we’re down right now, but we’re going to be OK. It’s the playoffs now.”
Weisbrod was consistently hounded by three or four different Central players the entire night, but still managed 22 points on an 8-of-16 night from the field. He added 6-of-9 free throws.
Toon, who sent the Nederland faithful into a frenzy in the third period by canning 4-for-4 three-pointers to provide his club a 32-30 lead with 6:02 to play in the period. He also drilled a long trey to cut Central’s four-point margin to one (40-39) with less than two minutes of the quarter.
Against two of the state’s best, the Bulldogs lost to Ozen by one and four points, beat Central by four and lost Tuesday’s decision by three points.
Nederland fans shouldn’t be too worried. It’s hard to imagine Nederland playoff opponents being as good or better than the two outstanding Beaumont schools.
“Classic” is probably one of the most overused cliches in sports.
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Bassmaster Elites are coming back
The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
• Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
• East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
• Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
• Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)
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