WINNIE — With 2.3 seconds left in a game tied at 63-63, the West’s Jakobi Jones stole a pass, dribbled into the right corner, took a breath and then sunk a rainbow 3-pointer as time expired.
His teammates sprinted over and turned the corner into an impromptu dogpile, as the West squad beat the East 66-63 in the first annual Southeast Texas Coaches Association All-Star boys basketball game Friday at East Chambers.
“I don’t think he’s ever made a jump shot in his life, and he comes in here and hits the game winner,” Nederland guard and East team member Kirby Hanley said, jokingly.
He may not have hit many, but Jones came through when it counted on Friday, capping an incredible game full of great moments. Both teams went on long scoring runs as the lead seesawed back and forth for much of the first three quarters.
But, in the fourth, both teams got into a groove and started hitting shot after shot. West team MVP Travis Stevens of Hardin-Jefferson hit three of his game-high five 3-pointers in the final quarter, ending with a game-high 15 ponts.
Another 3 from the East brought the crowd to its feet, as Port Neches-Groves guard Brandon Pham hit his own triple with less than 15 seconds to play.
“DaVaughn (Thomas of Silsbee) told me he was looking for me,” Pham, who finished with 11 points, two rebounds and a steal, said. “I got myself ready and put it up.”
Pham joined with Nederland’s Kirby Hanley, Port Arthur Memorial’s Qualyn Broussard, Jasper’s Dranzell Haynes and Sabine Pass’ John Warren as the East’s second line. That unit pushed the East lead to 17- 5 by the end of the first quarter, as the entire unit worked together for basket after basket.
Broussard finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and one steal.
“It was hustle and second chance points,” Broussard said. “That’s what helped us out there. Steals and second chance points is what we were able to do.”
That didn’t stop the West team, coached by Kountze’s Duane Joubert, from mounting their own comeback in the second quarter. That’s where the West went on a 20-2 run at one point and took a 33-24 lead into halftime.
“It was a lot of fun,” East head coach Brian English said. “We got to meet different kids with different styles of play. We hate to lose at the buzzer, but at least it was exciting there at the end. Our ideas and philosophies didn’t mesh with some of these kids, but you just have to go with it. It’s an all-star game and it’s a lot of fun.”
English was coaching three of his players one last time in the game. Hanley joied Jamiere Rogers and Zach English on the squad. Hanley finished the game with six points, four rebounds and two assists while Rogers had one rebound and one steal and English had eight points and six rebounds.
“It’s bittersweet,” Hanley said. “ I enjoyed it, though. It’s kinda sad that I won’t get to play with Zach and Jamiere anymore, but I’m glad I got to play one last time with them. It was fun.”
Fans also got a treat with those variable lineups, when the Nederland and PN-G players, including big man A.J. Smith, talked to the elder English about adding a little Mid-County Madness to the game.
In the third quarter, English unveiled an all Mid-County lineup, with Pham, Smith, Hanley, Rogers and English all playing together for about two minutes.
“It was great playing with the guys you usually play against,” Pham said. “That Mid-County Madness lineup was crazy. We hang out outside of school, so we’re friends even when we’re not competing.”
The East team was led by Silsbee’s Jordan Holmes, who was named the SETCA Player of the Year befor the game. Holmes finished with 14 points, four rebounds and a block while also giving the crowd a thrill with his high-flying antics.