PN-G set for uphill climb
Published 12:43 am Sunday, November 15, 2015
PORT NECHES — Pat Abel knows his Indians are in an uphill battle when it comes to making the playoffs out of District 22-5A.
The Indians finished sixth last year in the district standings and went 7-17 overall. Throw in the fact Port Neches-Groves lost one of its best players in John Dubois to a leg injury, and the hill seems even taller.
No matter the challenge, Abel believes in his Indians and their chances of finding a way to reach the postseason.
“We are going to be young again and will not have a lot of great size,” Abel said. “The best thing is these kids work hard and I think they are going to be a decent shooting team once they get their stroke down. We should be able to defend pretty well this year.”
The tallest Indians player is Keynel McZeal, who stands 6-foot-5. He, along with Caisen Sullivan, has not joined the basketball team yet due to football.
“Last year we were neck-and-neck with a couple teams to make the playoffs with about two weeks left,” Abel said. “Our district can compete with anyone in the state of Texas. Both Ozen and Central proved that last year. People don’t always give us that credit, but there is some pretty good basketball being played in 22-5A even below the top four teams.”
One player in particular has been extra special to the coach over the last three years. His son Ryan Abel is back for his senior year.
“It has been fun,” Abel said. “Everyone talks about how tough it is to coach your son and there are challenges. There are some special moments in it because you can build some special bonds.”
Ryan Abel said he is ready for the challenge of getting the Indians over the hump.
“We are still young and we are going to have to use what we got right now because we don’t know how long those football guys will be playing,” Abel said. “It can be stressful working with the young guys. We all have to be ready by the time we start district play.”
Coach Abel will also rely on Derrick Papa and Ram Polavarapu who are both returning starters from a year ago.
“We are also always looking for the younger players to step up and right now we have three sophomores on varsity,” Abel added. “We are looking for them to contribute like we need them to do.”