Nederland’s dream season ended in the blink of an eye.
A 22-foot jumper from the deep right corner by Colton Weisbrod with 1.4 second left was long, and the Bulldogs incredible season was off —just that quick.
Playing heavily favored and No. 4 ranked Ft. Bend Marshall even for 32 minutes, Brian English’s Bulldogs fell to the Buffalos, 53-50, in the Class 4A regional semifinals here Friday night before 4,500 at Katy’s Merrell Center.
In the opener of the regional tournament, Beaumont Central advanced to this afternoon Region III finals with a thrilling 46-45 win over Friendswood.
For once this season, Weisbrod wasn’t able to have his normal 27 points effort.
After carrying his team on his back for the entire season, and especially through three previous playoff victories, he was man-handled throughout the game and finished the night with 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting.
Marshall’s 6-8, 230-pound Elliot Taylor and his high-jumping Buff teammates made the greatest scorer in Nederland history fight for his life on every inside shot he took.
Weisbrod had seven shots blocked (five of which could easily been called fouls). But on the night, the officiating crew let both teams “play”, allowing a lot of banging on the inside and a lot of hand checking in the backcourt.
“I’ve never been banged around like tonight,” said Weisbrod. “I thought I was fouled a couple of times in close, but that’s the way it goes because they (the officials) were letting us play.”
Nederland’s defensive standout Colton Kimler said, “these guys were 10 times more physical than either Central or Ozen.”
Although Nederland committed just one of its 18 turnovers in the final quarter, Marshall’s aggressive full-court and half-court trapping defenses limited the Bulldogs to just 2-of-9 field goals and only seven points.
Entering the final stanza, Nederland led 43-40, but the Bulldogs were outscored 13-7 in the final eight minutes.
In a silent, somber Nederland dressing room, Bulldog coach English told his team, “we played our season to the very last second and I couldn’t be more proud of all of you.”
“Nobody, including myself, thought we would have gotten this far when the season began. And you kids proved everybody wrong.”
Marshall’s Taylor, who entered the contest averaging only nine points a game, looked like a big-time D-1 recruit. He hit just about everything he shot — close bankers in inside, a number of FGs from 15 feet, a three-pointer from the top of key and finished with 24 points.
But while leading his team in scoring, Taylor’s biggest contribution was his defense on Weisbrod on the inside. Nobody all year long has had the length (6-8), size (230) and outstanding jumping ability to make almost every shot Weisbrod a difficult one.
Marshall improved to 28-7 and has now won 19 straight games. Five of its seven losses were to teams playing Friday in the 4A and 5A regional semifinals.
Leading 19-10 after one quarter, the turnover bug struck Nederland to begin the second period. Following a missed three by Kimler to begin the quarter, the Bulldogs were harassed into five turnovers on their ensuing six trips down the court.
Marshall guard Damien Day hit a three, Taylor scored on an out-of-bounds play, then back-to-back treys from Jadier Richardson and Day turned Nederland’s nine-point lead into a 23-19 deficit. The Bulldogs didn’t score until the 3:29 mark of the second when Tyler Toon, who had 15 points, hit his first of five three-pointers on the night.
Marshall led 30-27 at halftime, but had seven turnovers in the third period (18 for the game) and Weisbrod’s conventional three-point play with 0:32 left in the period gave Nederland a 43-40 margin heading into the final quarter.
On the night, Nederland hit 16-of-41 shots from the field (39.0 percent), while Marshall was connecting on 19-of-52 FGs (36.5 percent). Holding Marshall to 52 total shots is amazing in itself since it average 70 field goal attempts per contest.
“It just came down to too many big bodies coming at us all night long, but our kids battled to the very last bucket of the season,” said English. “I’ve never been prouded of a group in my coaching career.”
Nederland’s dream season ended in the blink of an eye.
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