PORT NECHES —
Tyler Toon’s silky smooth shooting stroke was beautiful string music to Nederland coach Brian English’s ear here Friday night.
Toon, on a good day like Friday, is one of the better shooters in Southeast Texas and on this night he was brilliant.
With six 3-pointers and three other baskets, the 6-1 Nederland senior guard tossed in 24 points in leading the Bulldogs to their 20th win in 21 games with a 82-44 romp over Port Neches-Groves.
Nederland, the No.1 team in District 20-4A at 10-1, improves its season mark to 21-6. The Indians fall to 3-8 in league action and to 6-21 on the season.
With the Indians hanging in there with the heavily-favored Bulldogs trailing by only 10 (26-16) with just over four minutes before halftime, Toon felt it was time to turn up the music. Starting at 4:10 of the second, the Bulldog sharpshooter hit long, long 3’s on four of his team’s next five trips down the court. Then he added a duece at the 1:07 mark of the second period and instead of the Indian’s staying in the game, Toon’s shooting helped baloon Nederland’s lead to a comfortable 40-19 margin at halftime.
So in a span of 3:03 of the second quarter, Toon dropped bomb after bomb after bomb on the Indians to put this one out of reach.
The win sets the stage for its final three district contests against Beaumont Ozen (next Tuesday), Lumberton on Friday, then a return on the following Tuesday by Central.
“We needed this one tonight because next Tuesday Ozen comes to town,” English said. Ozen’s 40-39 win over the ‘Dogs in the first round of district play is Nederland’s only defeat in district. Prior to the Bulldogs’ loss to then No. 2-ranked Ozen on the Jan. 10, its setback was a loss to Beaumont West Brook in the semifinals of Nederland’s own tournament on Dec. 13.
Besides Toon’s spectacular shooting night (including five 3’s and 21 points in the first half) and leading scorer Colton Weisbrod’s 12 first half points, the Nederland duo outscored the Indians by themselves (33-19) in the opening two periods. Weisbrod finished with 21 points, while sophomore Jaylan Ballou added 11.
Nederland held the Indians scoreless for 7:58 from the middle of the second quarter to 3:44 of the third period when PN-G guard Kade Geoffroy drilled a long trey to break a 22-0 Bulldog scoring run.
The Bulldogs continued its excellent shooting from the field hitting on 59.1 percent from the floor on the night (including six 3’s in the opening half). PN-G shot a respectible 46.9 percent from the floor, but managed 12 less shots than the ‘Dogs. Nederland hit nine 3’s on the night, while the Indians connected on five, including two from PN-G scoring leader Adam Morse (9 points on the night).
One aspect of Nederland’s game that just gets better and better each week is its half-court press and its overall defense. The Bulldogs are consistently holding teams under 50 points and that’s one factor that sometimes goes unnoticed in this outstanding two-month run of great basketball.
“It was great to see Tyler (Toon) hit those 3’s because this should really get him on tract,” added English. “And we really need him. Shooting as smooth as he did tonight was great to see and it should give him lots of confidence.”
Asked about his team’s overall defensive improvement, English noted, “we have really stressed that part of the game and our kids have bought into it totally.”
Nederland hosts Ozen in the Dog Dome starting at 7:30 on Tuesday and its gives the Bulldogs a chance at getting back at a team that gave them their only loss in district.
NEDERLAND (21-6, 10-1) 20 20 24 18 -- 82
PN-G (6-21, 3-8) 7 12 9 16 -- 44
NEDERLAND: Tyler Toon 24, Colton Weisbrod 21, Jaylan Ballou. PN-G: Adam Morse 9, Christian Langston 8.