BOYS HOOPS 2016-17: Titans playing for something bigger than PA Memorial

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Soon, it will become more obvious what Port Arthur Memorial’s boys basketball team represents.

Second-year coach Kenneth Coleman ordered new jerseys for the Titans that will have the words “Port Arthur” printed across, rather than just the “Memorial” on the current uniforms. “Port Arthur” is already printed on the practice jerseys.

“It’s just an identity thing,” said Coleman, a 1978 Lincoln High graduate. “It’s something we can rally around. We’re definitely Port Arthur Memorial, but like I say, the tie that binds is that we’re all Port Arthur.”

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Since his hire in August 2015, Coleman’s goal has been to build a state championship program in the same city where his alma mater won eight of them (seven in the UIL from 1981-1995). He had come from such a program at North Shore, where he assisted former Memorial coach David Green.

Now, Coleman has plenty of human resources he can rely on, including a pair of coaches from the Titans’ old league, District 21-6A.

“I’m blessed,” Coleman said. “You think about it, I got [longtime Lincoln coach James] Gamble. I was with coach [and recent Port Arthur ISD athletic director Andre] Boutte all last year, and he helped me tremendously. I’ve got coach Green.

“Put all those championships together. Something should be down the line for me,” he added with a laugh.

Boutte is now West Brook’s head coach.

Memorial was 13-17 and 7-5 in 21-6A (tied for second place) last season, having won a season-high six games before dropping its final four games. But the Titans are heavy on a nine-man junior class that has been battle-tested playing in a new system.

“We just had to work harder,” said junior forward Darion Chatman, one of the Titans’ leading scorers last season. “We learned a lot of different things. Coach Coleman knows what he’s talking about. Last year, we just had to buy in. This year, we’re all in. Nobody’s slacking.”

Junior forward Thailan Wesley has the ability to score in the paint to go along with a smooth shooting touch from long range. He doesn’t have a preference where he can score from because he takes what defenses give him, he said.

Memorial will be deep at the point with juniors Reao Keller and David Torres returning and senior Bishop James looking to make an impact.

Keller is thankful for the experience he had facing tough competition as a sophomore.

“Last year, we went against a lot of D-I commits,” he said. “That really got me prepared. I appreciate [Coleman] throwing me in the fire because I think I’m now prepared for anything ahead of me.”

The Titans are blessed with height across the board. Seven players are 6-3 or taller, including 6-6 junior post Tyler Guidry and 6-4 Sabine Pass transfer Jamal Dorsey, a junior who was one of the Sharks’ leading scorers during their run to the 2A area round.

The team identity won’t be based on its offensive play, however, although Coleman wants each player to play freely within his strengths.

“Some people have the freedom to do certain things because of their skill level, but we don’t talk about offense a whole lot around here,” he said. “We’re going to win because we make stops, because we stopped people. Our whole identity is going to be built around defense.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

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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