PORT ARTHUR —
Chances are if The News sports section reports Port Arthur Memorial makes only two field goals in the entire second half against Central, the Titans would be the losers of the game.
The odds of Memorial pulling out the miracle would become even more slim if it was reported four-year starting guard Torian Lott was held scoreless.
Saturday night saw the Titans make only two second-half buckets and Lott did not score in the game. Memorial though beat the odds and defeated Central, 42-39, and won the championship of the 21st James Gamble Classic.
Memorial pulled out the victory thanks to going 13-for-15 from the free throw line in the third and fourth periods.
“That right there shows exactly how important free throws are,” Memorial Coach Travis Williams said.
When Williams was informed his Titans only made two field goals in the second half, his face showed his disbelief.
“We only made two baskets,” Williams asked. “That is a blessing. You only make two field goals in the second half there is no way you are supposed to beat Central. If we miss one or two more of those free throws we lose the game.”
Memorial’s two baskets game on the first points scored in the third period off a shot by Ron Taylor. The second game on a basket and a foul by Joseph Williams with 5:14 left in the game. Memorial was up 33-31 at that point.
Dorian Chatman led all players with 19 points and 11 rebounds. He was named the tournament’s MVP. He made his living from the charity stripe Saturday as his last basket came with 3:04 remaining in the first half. Chatman was 11-for-13 from the free throw line.
Central had several chances down the stretch to either take the lead or tie the game. The first came when E’Torrion Wilridge scored with 53 seconds left in the game to make it 40-39 in favor of the Titans.
Memorial then turned the ball over to Central and the Jaguars Nijal Pearson then missed a shot after having a great look at the basket with just over 10 seconds left.
Ron Taylor then calmly sank two free shots for Memorial to make it 42-39 with 4.5 seconds on the clock.
Wilridge got the shot at the buzzer he was looking for but his attempt came up short and even though he did not score, Lott grabbed the final rebound of the game.
“With a player like Torian you gladly take the good with the bad,” Williams said. “He is a four-year starter and we are not where we are today without him. I always tell players like Ron Taylor that teams are going to key on Torian. If other guys have open shots, they better take the shot. If we are allowing teams to take out Torian and then other guys don’t shoot we are playing 4-on-5. I want to play 5-on-5.”
Taylor and Lott were both named to the All-Tournament team. Taylor scored 11 points Saturday and pulled down five rebounds.
“This feels great,” Taylor said. “We wanted this win for our community and all the players on our team. Central is a very good basketball team. We fought until the end and that is what you have to do.”
Taylor was confident no matter how many baskets the Titans did not score in the game that Memorial would still be on top.
“Even if I had known before the game the stats we had against us, I would still believe we win,” Taylor said. “There was no pressure in shooting those free throws at the end of the game. That is why we practice those shots. It is nothing I had never done before.”
Memorial raced out to a 13-7 lead after the first period and then six straight points from Chatman in the second gave the Titans a 21-9 cushion.
Central closed the first half on a 6-0 run to make the halftime score 25-19.
Memorial would then only score five points in the third period. Central put up 10 and it was a one-point game heading into the fourth at 30-29.
It could have been worse as Lott picked up his third and fourth fouls near the end of the third period after he was called for a foul and then received a technical when walking to the bench.
Central was not able to capitalize on the two technical foul free throws.
Lott then spent the better part of the fourth subbing in while the Titans were on offense and leaving the court while on defense to avoid his fifth foul.
Wilridge led the Jaguars with 13 points.
Saturday Boys Scores
James Gamble Classic
Longview 77, Houston Kashmere 50
Lake Charles Washington Marion 59, C.E. King 56
Silsbee 79, Hightower 73 (Consolation)
West Brook 45, Ozen 41 (Third Place)
Memorial 42, Central 39
Gulf Coast Classic
at Barbers Hill High School
Nederland 57, Baytown Sterling 32
Nederland 60, Brookshire Royal 35
Saturday’s Girls Scores
Gulf Coast Classic
at Barbers Hill High School
Memorial 77, Cinco Ranch 50