The Port Arthur News
The Woodlands —
March may have its Madness, but what do we call the craziness that lives in the Texas high school basketball playoffs? February Fever?
Whatever you call it, unexpected results were on full display with Nederland’s area round opponent, the Manor Mustangs. Manor (11-17, 7-6) may not have the best overall record, but that didn’t stop the Mustangs from bouncing Montgomery 66-43 on Tuesday in bidistrict play.
That set up a Class 4A area round matchup with Nederland at 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Woodlands College Park.
Manor, District 17-4A’s fourth seed, was one of just three Class 4A four-seeds to knock off a district’s top seed in bidistrict play. The other two were 13-4A’s Sherman downing 14-4A’s Marshall 60-56 on Tuesday and 12-4A’s Dallas Hillcrest topping 11-4A winner Dallas Carter.
The Mustangs used a big closing kick to beat Mongtomery, outscoring the Bears 35-17 in the second half. Junior Tyler Ellis led the Mustangs with 16 points and was the only Manor player to score in double figures.
A closing kick was nothing new for the Mustangs, as Manor won five of its last six games after sprinting to the finish in District 17-4A. The Mustangs won five straight games before dropping the regular season finale 42-39 to Georgetown. Still, that win streak helped them separate from Bastrop for that fourth and final playoff spot.
All four of 17-4A’s playoff teams won in bidistrict play, with Georgetown beating Willis 59-51, Pflugerville Connally beating Huntsville 65-31 and Elgin beating Magnolia 60-49. Both district champ Elgin and Georgetown won more than 20 games this season. That adds up to a pretty tough district that Manor survived, making them tougher than the normal fourth seed.
Stepping up in the playoffs is nothing new for the Mustangs under head coach Robert Andrews. Last season, Andrews was named Central Texas Coach of the Year by the Austin American Statesman for leading the Mustangs to the regional semifinals. Manor lost to eventual state champion Dallas Kimball.
Manor has averaged 55 points per game while allowing 56 points per game, but has reversed that trend in the past 10 games. Including the bidistrict victory over Montgomery, the Mustangs have seen almost a 10 point drop in its points allowed per game, down to 47 ppg.
The Mustangs are led by point guard Jacorey McQueen and guard Tyler Johnson, who won district MVP last season and upped his scoring average by six points in last year’s playoff run. But, the hallmark of the Mustang offense this season has been diversity. Manor doesn’t have one or two scorers carrying the load, but instead has as many as 10 or 11 players recording points in each game.
For Nederland, Tuesday’s 59-51 decision over Humble was yet another bidistrict victory for head coach Brian English's squad. Bulldog alum English has led his team to the regional quarterfinals in each of the past three seasons, including a matchup with Beaumont Ozen at Lamar's Montagne Center last season.
The Bulldogs have won seven of their last eight games, also dropping the final game of district play just like Manor. Over that stretch, Nederland is averaging 61 points per game and giving up just 42 points per game.
After struggling to find a third scoring option behind junior post Colton Weisbrod and senior guard Zach English in the first half of district play, two players have stepped up in recent games.
Both senior guard Jamiere Rodgers and senior forward Jared Lorimier have chipped in with big scoring outputs lately. Rodgers had 15 points in the bidistrict victory over Humble in what Brian English called the "best game of his career."