BOYS HOOPS 2016-17: Indians may adjust style of play in 22-5A

Published 12:54 am Sunday, November 13, 2016

PORT NECHES — If there was one coach who really did not like Port Arthur Memorial’s move down from Class 6A to Class 5A, it was Port Neches-Groves basketball coach Pat Abel.

It is nothing personal. District 22-5A was tough already with Central, Ozen and Nederland typically taking up three playoff spots every year.

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Now the Indians have to find a way to get over the Titans, too, if PNG wants to reach the postseason.

“I always tell our guys I really believe this district is the toughest 5A district in the state, if not the nation,” Abel said. “Memorial dropping down makes the race that much more difficult. We have always said there is never a night off in our district, and now this makes it that much harder.”

So what is a 17-year head coach to do? Well for one, Abel might loosen up a bit on the reins with his players.

He is known for preaching fundamental basketball and playing the game the right way, win or lose.

This year, the group of players he has might lend itself to Abel letting the guys fly around the court a little more. PNG, who has always played a San Antonio Spurs-style of basketball, might try to look like the Houston Rockets a little here and there.

“That is a good question,” Abel said when asked what style his Indians will play this year. “We would like to say we are going to try to speed the tempo up. I know how I have always coached and I seem to always put the reins on them, but we are going to try to let them play a little bit more and let them loosen up.

“Hopefully, we will have a little success with it. I feel like we do pretty well in a situation that keeps us under control, but this group has the potential to play around a little bit and open it up.”

The group includes six players with varsity experience.

Juniors Preston Le, Haden Wiggins, Edsel Damo and Hunter Curtis join seniors Derrick Papa and T.J. Jordan as returners off a 15-14 team last year that finished 7-7 in District 22-5A play.

Abel has seen the team through two scrimmages, one against West Orange-Stark and one against Bridge City, and he is hopeful this year’s Indians team can get over the tall hurdles standing in its way.

“I like the energy we have had so far,” Abel added. “We seem to be playing with good chemistry and taking care of the ball under pressure situations. We are able to score a little bit.

“We lost about 40 points a game from last year and we have to fill those voids. We have six guys coming back that got positive minutes and I think that experience will help them in the long run.”

Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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