Just Kelly’s luck: Bulldogs pull away from Indians

Published 5:39 pm Monday, December 19, 2016

PORT NECHES — Monday afternoon was no time for the Kelly Bulldogs to take a break from basketball, even if the holiday break was just beginning.

Port Neches-Groves pulled within five points early in the fourth quarter before Kelly went on a big run to seal a 49-34 victory. The Bulldogs are 14-4 on the season with the win.

“They kind of sleepwalked through a couple of the quarters,” 15th-year Kelly coach James Knowles said. “We played Thursday, Friday and Monday, and we haven’t had an opportunity to really do anything. Everybody else has been on break. They tried to go on break, too, and you can’t go on break. You’ve got basketball to play.”

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The Indians (2-8) have played a challenging non-district slate but have given highly talented teams a big challenge as well. They nearly took down Rodney McCray-coached Victory Prep, which featured five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt, during the Nederland Bulldog Classic. (Vanderbilt reportedly narrowed his college list to TCU, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oregon.)

“We try to play competition similar to our district opponents in order to get us ready for the onslaught,” PNG coach Pat Abel said. The Indians, who went 15-14 last season, will see the likes of Port Arthur Memorial, Nederland, Central and Ozen in District 22-5A.

“We’re trying to understand that every team could have that player [like Vanderbilt], and we’ve got to be on our A-game every night, or we’ll definitely take it on the chin,” Abel said. “We definitely gained some confidence from that game, but they’ve got to be able to simulate that from night to night.”

Kelly, which qualified for the TAPPS state playoffs last season, went on an 8-0 run to extend a 36-31 lead in the fourth. That was shortly after T.J. Jordan knocked down his second three-point shot to narrow the gap.

Kelly led 27-16 at halftime. Dareiyus Richard scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the first half.

“Kelly did a great job,” Abel said. “We cut it to five there in the fourth, and we made some mistakes. They capitalized on them.”

Haden Wiggins was PNG’s only double-digit scorer with 10 points.

PNG played its first game in six days, following its second win of the season over West Orange-Stark.

“Anytime you can play a game as opposed to practice, it’s always going to benefit you because we can’t simulate what the opponent in practice,” Abel said.

The Indians will be off for nine days before playing in the Bridge City Cardinal Classic, where they’ll take on Vidor, Orangefield and Evadale. It will be the second time this season Vidor and PNG face off in non-district play; Vidor won the first meeting 45-40 in Nederland.

Kelly opens play at Memorial’s James Gamble Classic next Tuesday against Houston Madison.

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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