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Bulldogs rally for OT classic

PORT NECHES — Wins and losses are means by which the sports world keeps track of its games.

The scoreboard might say different, but the only losers in Friday night’s District 22-4A opener between Nederland and Port Neches-Groves were those fans who had a chance to get to Indian Gym and stayed away.

For the record, Nederland won 68-67 in overtime in front of an evenly divided gathering of about 350 rowdy fans that didn’t come close to half-filling the building.

There were heroes aplenty for both teams. There were highs like you wouldn’t believe, one after the other. The rafters rained 3-point baskets, 15 in all — 11 by the Indians.

“It really was a great game,” losing coach Pat Abel of PN-G said. “I’m proud of our kids. I’m even proud of Nederland’s kids. That’s what our basketball is supposed to be like. That’s the way we want it to be in this area.”

The Bulldogs, who had lost to PN-G in two prior meetings this month, owned a 10-point, 30-20, lead at half. But the Indians roared back in the second half and led by 10, 51-41, after opening the fourth period with four straight 3-point bombs.

Nederland tied it 56-all on Jacob Van Schoubrek’s bucket with 4 seconds left in regulation, then overcame a quick five-point PN-G lead in overtime.

“It was crazy,” first-year Nederland coach Brian English said. “I even had two PN-G students stop me after the game and say, ‘Coach, that was a great game.’

“Our guys showed a lot of character. This is big for us, because it’s a start.”

Nederland, improved to 5-10 with the win. PN-G is now 5-11. Nederland hosts No. 8-ranked Ozen Tuesday night, while PN-G is at Lumberton.

Chris Hammond, one of four sophomore starters for the Bulldogs, led his team with 18 points and added seven rebounds. Junior Buddy Cooper had 15 points and sophomore point guard Francis Torres scored 13.

PN-G junior Travis Thompson was 5 for 9 from 3-point range and led all scorers with 21 points. Senior Nathan DeRon scored 11 for the Indians and senior Dax Schexnayder hit three 3-pointers and scored 10 points.

Nederland used a tight zone defense to counter PN-G’s height advantage and ruled the rebounds, 37-25, with senior Jacob Van Schoubrek picking off a game-high eight. Twin brother Micah Van Schoubrek had seven rebounds. Senior Michael Palermo led PN-G with six rebounds.

Hammond scored seven fourth-period points and Cooper six and Nederland outscored PN-G 14-5 in the final 3:33 of regulation to force the extra four-minute period.

The Indians led by five, 56-51, when Damon Kerr, playing sparingly after missing more than a week with bruised kneecaps, scored off Kenneth Tezeno’s feed with 30 seconds to play.

Nederland answered with Cooper’s 3-pointer to make it a two-point game with 20 seconds to go and then Torres stole the ball from Kerr with 10 seconds left. English used his last two timeouts mapping a play for Hammond.

“We just talked to them about making plays, and they did,” the Bulldog coach said. “We had a set play for Chris, but they doubled up on Chris and he found the open man.”

Boy, did he.

Jacob Van Schoubrek was wide open under the basket for the tying layup. Thompson missed a possible winner for PN-G at the buzzer.

PN-G jumped out to a 61-56 lead in overtime. With 1:19 left, Cooper nailed another trey to tie it at 63-all.

Two free throws by Torres and Jacob Van Schoubrek’s hook shot after Kerr hit 1 of 2 free throws put the Bulldogs ahead 67-64 with 18 seconds left.

PN-G called timeout with 8 ticks left to set up a play for Thompson. He inbounded the ball to Kerr, who passed it back to him in the left corner, also setting a screen for Thompson.

“He had a good look,” Abel said. “It just didn’t fall.”

Pitts grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled. He hit 1 of 2 free throws with 3.4 seconds left for what turned out to be the winning point when PN-G’s Tezeno hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.