Bulldogs overcome slow start, missed FTs to shake off Eagles

Published 12:35 am Friday, December 2, 2016

NEDERLAND — Kevin Howard made 1 of 2 free throws in the waning moments of overtime to give Nederland a two-possession lead on Barbers Hill.

John Cerbara converted an off-balance shot and was fouled on the other end, adding to the suspense. Nederland broke the press of the rebound and Darrell Jones drove for the layup to secure a 47-43 overtime win Thursday in the nightcap of the Nederland Bulldog Classic.

The extra 4 minutes could have been avoided. The Bulldogs (4-0) made only 10 of 26 free throws.

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“It was a lack of focus,” said Jones, the senior point guard who scored a game-high 20 points. “But you’ve got to come back stronger and get ready for it. This is what you practice for, so you can be ready and focused in the fourth quarter.”

The Eagles (2-5) struggled at the foul line themselves, making 5 of 10.

It was the Bulldogs’ first game in nine days, and they struggled to get going after a long Thanksgiving break.

“You could see the rustiness in us,” Jones said. “It’s that Thanksgiving turkey, what I call it.”

Barbers Hill tied the game at 37 on a 12 Jace Seymore three-point basket with 10 seconds left. Nederland junior Jonathan Rayford pushed the ball in transition but lost the handle on the ball before he could take a shot as time expired.

Free-throw woes continued for both teams in overtime. Nederland shot 6 of 13 in the frame and didn’t make a field goal until Jones drew an and-1 inside the paint with 1:27 left.

Jones, however, vowed about the foul shooting: “That will not happen again.”

Barbers Hill made 2 of 5 free throws in overtime.

After both teams traded a turnover, the Bulldogs rebounded a missed Barbers Hill three and managed to send Howard to the line.

Nederland won the overtime period 10-6, both teams scoring more points in 4 minutes than in the third period, when Barbers Hill outscored the Bulldogs 5-4. Nederland made only one field goal in that frame.

“I think we did a great job defensively,” Nederland coach Brian English said. “We didn’t play really well. We didn’t shoot the ball really well. It had a lot to do with [the Eagles]. They had good defense, they were scrappy, and they got after us.”

The Eagles forced the Bulldogs to make extra passes in the early going with a 2-3 zone and took a 12-8 lead through one quarter, but guard Cade Smith buried three-straight three-point baskets to help Nederland take a 24-21 halftime lead.

“We’ve been seeing man [defense] all year, and seeing that zone for the first time, we weren’t ready for it,” said Howard, who had nine points, as did Smith.

McCaul Martin and Parker Bunn each had 10 points to lead the Eagles.

Next for Nederland is a meeting with Breaux Bridge-based Louisiana Christian at 6 p.m. Friday. That game is sandwiched between two contests featuring the tournament’s top Division I recruits: small forward and Texas A&M signee Savion Flagg leading Alvin against Woodville and small forward Jarred Vanderbilt, the unsigned standout for Victory Prep against Port Neches-Groves.

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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