Indians race to first victory

Published 11:29 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2015

PORT NECHES — The first victory of the boys’ basketball season found ways to dodge Port Neches-Groves until Tuesday night.
That’s when it was all for the Indians’ taking.
Ryan Abel had 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, Derrick Papa added 15 of his own, and PN-G didn’t leave much to chance in a 55-31 win over Orangefield. The win was much needed for the Indians (1-3), who open the Nederland Bulldog Classic against Houston Fallbrook College Prep at noon Thursday.
“It was very big for us,” said Papa, a junior guard. “We’ve had two really close games I think we should have won really easily. We don’t have all of our pieces yet. We have some more football players coming. … We can be really good when we have all of our pieces.”
Only eight PN-G players dressed out Tuesday, including standout wide receiver Caisen Sullivan, who made his basketball season debut. Coach Pat Abel said Keynel McZeal, another receiver for the District 22-5A co-championship football team, was dealing with “a terrible case” of pink eye and was held out Tuesday, but is likely to play in Nederland.
“They’re kind of conditioning during games,” Pat Abel said of the receivers.
The Indians have come close to victory in recent games against Little Cypress-Mauriceville (44-43 defeat) and Barbers Hill (52-49 double-overtime loss). But on Tuesday they never trailed the Bobcats (0-3) and rode the solid inside play of Ryan Abel and point-guard skills of Papa to dominate in their first victory.
Both players accounted for PN-G’s only two three-pointers of the game, but Papa found success attacking the basket.
“Honestly, I just like shooting the ball, but it wasn’t falling, so I just had to score somehow,” he said.
Orangefield last trailed within a basket at 12-10. That was when Abel and Papa nailed back-to-back treys, starting a 13-0 run. PN-G led 29-16 at halftime.
Papa gave the Indians a little separation late in the third quarter with a bank shot and free throw, and Preston Le’s drive to the hole built the lead to 42-25. Orangefield, which accounted for all nine third-quarter points on three-point shots, endured a field-goal spell that lasted more than 4 minutes into the final period.
The Bobcats totaled six treys for the game. Wesley Frillon canned three of them and led the way with 11 points. Aven Lathrop added eight.
Orangefield will play in the Evadale tournament Thursday through Saturday and host its own tourney Dec. 10-12.

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About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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