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Titans, Lady Titans play tonight in Barbers Hill

Though they are only one game into the Class 5A state playoffs, the Port Arthur Memorial girls basketball team is already running into a stern test.

Tonight at 6 o’clock at Barbers Hill the Lady Titans will take on No. 11 Clear Springs (30-4, 14-0). The Lady Chargers went undefeated in District 24-5A and haven’t lost in district play in 32 games, stretching back to 2010. The Lady Chargers made it to the regional semifinals last season before falling to Region III champ Alief Elsik.

Clear Springs lost to North Shore 55-35, which should give Memorial head coach Kevin Henry a starting spot for his game plan. The only other 21-5A opponent the Lady Chargers have played this season was Baytown Sterling, who they beat 87-20 on Dec. 8.

All four of Clear Springs losses this season came within a three-week stretch from Nov. 19 to Dec. 10, including losses to No. 4 Duncanville, No. 3 Spring Dekaney and Class 4A No. 1 Beaumont Ozen.

The Lady Chargers are led by Brooke McCarty, who is averaging 23.1 points per game. Clear Springs has averaged 80 points per game over its last nine and only given up 45.8 over that stretch.

About the only advantage Memorial may have comes on the height end. The Lady Chargers do not have much length, so if Lady Titan post players like Jasmine Taylor, Maria Bello and Velma Brown will need to have good games if they want to pull off the upset.

The Lady Titans will also need to continue a sterling defensive effort that has seen them allow just 31.6 points per game during district play and over 50 points twice all season.

The Port Arthur Memorial boys will be fighting for their own playoff destiny days before the Class 5A postseason begins and they will do it at the same location as the Lady Titans game. Memorial will take on Channelview at 8 p.m. in a tiebreaker game for second place in 21-5A.

Channelview and Memorial split the two district meetings with both teams winning at home. The Falcons won the first 64-53, mainly using the 3-point shot to run past the Titans. Channelview hit 10 3-pointers in that one, including six in the third quarter alone.

That game was the fifth in a row that saw Memorial give up at least 60 points, the longest such streak of the season. In fact, Memorial only gave up 60 or more in four other games all season.

Since the first loss to Channelview, Memorial has only allowed 49.5 points per game. The only team to score 60 or more on the Titans in that stretch was 0-10 Baytown Sterling, who did it in both the matchups in 21-5A play.

Defense ruled the second matchup, primarily by cutting down on Channelview’s shots behind the arc. The Falcons only made 2 3-pointers in the second meeting as Channelview went 2 for 11 from behind the arc in the game.

Channelview is 3-3 in its last six games, averaging just 46.5 points per game over that stretch. That’s down from the Falcons’ average of 50.5 points per game during district play.

The Falcons are also a team that thrives on defense, as they have allowed just 50.2 points per game during district play and have given up 60 or more just four time all season and just once in 21-5A play (a 68-47 loss to North Shore).

The winner of the game will get a chance to face Pasadena Rayburn (25-10, 6-4), the third-place finisher from 22-5A. The loser will get 22-5A’s South Houston (17-15, 7-3) in the bidistrict round of the playoffs on Tuesday.

The three-team pileup for the third playoff spot in 21-3A will start to become clearer starting Friday, when Orangefield and West Orange-Stark play at 7 p.m. at the PN-G Competition Gym.

The Bobcats beat WO-S 56-53 at home on Tuesday to force the three-way tie between them and Hamshire-Fannett at 4-6. WO-S had previously beaten Orangefield 55-44 in the first round of district play.

Orangefield came into 21-3A playing well, winning three straight games before playing at Hamshire-Fannett on Jan. 13. However, the Bobcats did not win two games in a row in the next 10, going 3-4 in its last seven games.

If the Bobcats win and advance to play Hamshire-Fannett on Saturday, it will be the sixth time this season that the two teams have met. Orangefield won the first and the last, beating the Longhorns 54-39 in the Evadale tournament and winning again 45-38 in the second round of district play.

WO-S had a 14-8 record entering district play, but suffered a bad end to the season. The Mustangs lost three of their last four to Silsbee, Hardin-Jefferson and Orangefield, with the only victory coming last Friday at home against Hamshire-Fannett.

That win set up this tiebreaker scenario, since all three teams had split the district matchups. The ultimate winner of these two games will take on Coldspring-Oakhurst, ranked No. 24 in the state.