O-wow: Nederland narrowly misses upset of Ozen

Published 11:19 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2016

BEAUMONT — Nederland was just one basket and 47.9 seconds away from sending shockwaves through Southeast Texas when the seasoned experience of Beaumont Ozen took over.

Ozen coach Marquis Saveat just wishes it didn’t have to come down to the clutch.

Neither does Nederland’s Brian English.

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“It’s just tough,” he said. “Sometimes, you’d rather lose by 15 or 20. They [Ozen] were the better team, but they made plays in the end. That’s a credit to them.”

The 5A eighth-ranked Panthers nailed 6 of 6 free throws in the final 47.9 seconds after clinging to a one-point lead and avoided maybe the biggest upset in Southeast Texas this season by beating the Bulldogs 60-55. The victory is the 10th in a row for last season’s 5A state runners-up.

“We were kind of off tonight, and you have to give [Nederland] credit,” Saveat said. “They came out did what they set out to do. We have some things we need to clean up.”

Nederland (16-7, 1-1), which had won 9 of its previous 11, dug out of a second-quarter 12-point hole to led by as much as 47-41 with 4:12 remaining after a Reid Garrett three-pointer. The Bulldogs turned the game around in the third with an 11-2 run, holding Ozen to one field goal over a 7-minute span.

“We didn’t change [schematically],” English said. “Darrell [Jones] got going in the third. We made some shots. [Jase] Miguez got going a little bit, and we played better defense.”

Miguez had a game-high 19 points and Jones scored 15 for the Bulldogs. Josh Boyd led the Panthers (15-2, 2-0) with 17.

The Bulldogs had their stretches when the ball literally did not bounce their way. Unfortunately for them, it happened in crucial stages of the game.

Ozen started the game outrebounding Nederland and successfully attacking the rim to build its biggest lead at 23-11 with 6:26 left in the second quarter.

“Sometimes, they try to feel out their opponent a little bit, and we can’t do that,” English said. “We have to come out ready to play.”

But Nederland clawed back with a 7-0 run that 6-foot-7 Parish Pierre snapped with a dunk. Pierre was slapped with a technical — the Panthers’ second of the game — for taunting, and Nederland rattled off six straight points afterward.

It was 27-26 in Ozen’s favor before defensive miscues allowed the Panthers to score back-to-back buckets in the final 14 seconds of the half.

Miguez scored seven points during the Bulldogs’ big third quarter, resulting in their 40-37 lead. Ozen guard John Comeaux, playing his third game with a shoulder brace, had a bigger fourth period with 11 of his 13 points, able to draw fouls in the paint and nailing 5 of 6 free throws.

Comeaux made two key tips down the stretch, one to tie the game at 49 and another to make it a 52-49 Ozen lead with 1:15 to go. But his steal in the backcourt and successive free throws with 31.4 seconds left all but sealed the deal, as Ozen led 58-53.

Jones quickly drove down the court for a Nederland layup, but Jalen Sneed hit two more free throws to fashion the final score.

“Our kids did do enough in the end to win, so it’s always better to go back, fix and clean up things you need to clean up when you won a game instead of let one slip away, and you have to tip your hat off to [Nederland],” Saveat said. “They came out and worked hard tonight and did everything they could to win the game.”

English said the unranked Bulldogs now believe they can play with any ranked team. They won’t have to wait long for a second chance at an upset, as No. 7 Beaumont Central visits the Dog Dome on Friday.

“We had our chances,” English said. “I knew we could compete. We didn’t start out well. We didn’t finish well. In between, we played pretty good. We had our chances and didn’t get it done.”

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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