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.
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)
Mid County knocked out of tournament
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