, Port Arthur, Texas

February 22, 2014

Nederland-Ozen set for playoff showdown

Larry Bodin
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — An all-District 20-4A Region III quarterfinal will unfold Tuesday at East Chambers High School when 24-8 Nederland meets District 20-4A co-champion and rival Beaumont Ozen meet for the third, and most important, time this season.

    Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

    Ozen, which upset one of the region’s top seeds in Manor, 82-78, Friday night in the area round contest, enters the Nederland contest with a sparkling 27-5 mark. The Bulldogs used Colton Weisbrod’s monster 39-point, 11-rebound, 5-steal night and Tyler Toon’s five threes, to dismantle 18-4A champ Montgomery.

    In 20-4A play, the Panthers handed the Bulldogs two of their three district losses (40-39 in Beaumont and 69-64 in Nederland).

    Although Brian English’s club dropped a pair to the Panthers in league play, the game in Beaumont was decided on the final play on a non-call on Weisbrod’s final second drive. Ozen claimed its other district win over Nederland with a flurry of free throws in the final minute.

    This will be the Bulldogs’ fifth straight trip to the regional quarterfinals under English (once to regional semis).  Nederland will be trying to present its coach with his 299th career win Tuesday. English has taken his club to its sixth straight Class 4A state playoff appearance.

    Last year the ‘Dogs lost in the region quarterfinals to Georgetown.

    “We’re excited to be here and I think it’s going to be a great basketball game,” English noted. “Our kids really played well in both games against Ozen, and I expect nothing but the same intensity Tuesday. It should be an electric atmosphere.”

    Since they face off twice every year in district, both teams know each other like the back of their hand. “They know what we do; we know what they do, so it will come down to execution and turnovers,” said the Nederland coach.

    Taking care of the basketball is something Nederland has done a great job recently. In its two playoffs wins — 50-45 over a very athletic Summer Creek team, and the Tuesday victory over Montgomery — the Bulldogs have committed just 22 total turnovers. In the final four quarters of their two playoff games, led by the guard tandem of senior Diondre Frank and sophomore Jaylan Ballou, the ‘Dogs have had only eight total turnovers.

    While Weisbrod’s explosion against Montgomery grabbed headlines, the Bulldogs reaped significant benefits from three timely steals from Ballou and one from Frank.

    Tied at 18 after one period, Nederland gained its lead for good using an aggressive half-court trapping defense that forced Montgomery into five straight turnovers to start the second period and six floor miscues in the Bears opening seven possessions of the quarter.

    Tuesday’s winner advances to the regional semifinals starting Friday at Katy’s Merrill Center.