Gerry L. Dickert
The Port Arthur News
For a coach with a senior son on his basketball team, every moment is precious. Now consider Brian English’s predicament – he sees all eight of his Nederland Bulldogs seniors as his “kids.”
After a precarious first half of play in the Class 4A bidistrict round Tuesday night, the Bulldogs went to the free throw line with deadly accuracy and Brian’s kids pulled out a 59-51 win over Humble High School at East Chambers Buccaneers Stadium.
“We have to win every game from here on out or it’s the last game … not just for Zach (English) but for all of our seniors. It’s hard to think about,” Coach English said. “They didn’t want this to be the last one and they worked together as a team to make sure that we came away from here with a win.”
Early on, it appeared that Humble might orchestrate an upset of the Bulldogs as the Wildcats played a bit of keep-away for an 8-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter. It’s not like the Bulldogs not to light up the scoreboard eventually, though, and they did so with the start of the second quarter, going on a 9-2 run for a 16-10 lead with six minutes left in the first half.
Between English and junior forward Colton Weisbrod, the Bulldogs maintained that six-point advantage heading into the half, 21-15. Weisbrod ended the game with eight points.
“It was an offensive struggle both ways,” Coach English said. “We made some mistakes early, forced some shots and we had some difficulty getting out front on them.”
Humble, which ends its season at 28-9, came out of the break on a dead run, led by senior Trayvond Collins.
“We had to hold (Collins) and we knew that coming into this game,” English said. “We did a great job of that in the first half. But he got hot in the second half.”
Back-to-back buckets by Collins pulled Humble to within two points, 21-19. But the Bulldogs stole that momentum and exploded for an 11-2 run that put Nederland up 32-21. Playing huge roles in that run were seniors Jamiere Rogers and Kirby Hanley. The two guards knocked down consecutive buckets to put the game out of reach of the Wildcats.
“Without a doubt, Rogers had the best game of his career tonight; he picked a great time for that to happen,” English said. Rogers ended the night with 15 points while Hanley had seven in the game.
And while the Bulldogs did indeed hold Collins nearly silent in the first half, limiting him to just two points, he would not be denied in the second half.
The Wildcats trailed by 14 heading into the final quarter but by the time Collins had his way, Humble would pull to within five points at 50-45. During that stretch, Collins hit a deuce and three 3-pointers and eventually finished the night with 21.
“We were not giving him any cushion but he was still able to put up some great shots,” English said.
With 2:15 left, though, Zach English knocked down a big 3 himself, pulling the ’Dogs back out to an 8-point lead at 53-45 and knocking the wind out of Humble’s sails.
Critical to Nederland’s second-half dominance was its success at the free throw line. The Bulldogs hit 24 of 33 from the line, including 18 of 26 in the second half.
“This was one of the best free throw shooting games we’ve had as a team,” English said. “We told our guys in practice today, if you each shoot 10 straight free throws we’ll be done for the day. Every one of them did it. This was a great shooting performance for us.”
Tuesday’s win for Nederland, which improves to 26-9 this season, clinched the right to advance to the Area round of the playoffs to face Manor High School at a date and location to be determined.
Class 4A Bidistrict
Nederland 59, Humble 51
HUM – 8-7-8-23 – 51
NED – 7-14-16-22 – 59
Records: Humble 28-9, Nederland 26-9.
Scoring: Humble, Trayvond Collins 21, Dezmon Smith 12, Brandon Joseph 9, Lonvis Naulls 4, Eduardo Osegueda 3, Michael Gonzalez 2; Nederland, Zach English 22, Jamiere Rogers 15, Colton Weisbrod 8, Jared Lorimier 7, Kirby Hanley 7.