BOYS BASKETBALL: It’s been fun: Titans pull away in final regular-season game against Jags

Published 10:58 pm Friday, January 26, 2018

If there’s one thing from the Port Arthur Memorial-Beaumont Central rivalry the Titans can take away, they know the last regular-season meeting could be the difference in an outright District 22-5A championship.

Memorial, ranked No. 4 in 5A, controlled the final 8 minutes at home and opened up a one-point lead to a 63-50 victory Friday night, giving the Titans a two-game lead over the Jaguars in district standings with five games left. The two teams tied for the district title last season.

“It’s huge,” Titans coach Kenneth Coleman said. “It’s one of the goals we had since last year when we were co-champions [to win the title outright]. With Central, Ozen and Nederland, we know what we’re up against, so anytime you can sweep Central, that’s big.”

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It’s the first time Memorial has swept the regular-season series with Central under Coleman, who’s in his third season leading the team.

This meeting came eight days after the Beaumont ISD announced Central would merge with Ozen for the 2018-19 school year due to extensive damage at the Central campus caused by Tropical Storm Harvey. Circumstance or not, Friday’s game in Port Arthur drew the usual packed house the rivalry has commanded.

Thailan Wesley, Memorial’s senior scoring standout, scored eight of his game-high 20 points in the fourth period as the Titans (22-5, 9-0 in 22-5A) outscored the Jaguars (16-8, 7-2) 24-12. Coleman said the decision to have Wesley come off the bench was a matter of “just a little housekeeping.”

“You just come out here and play the same basketball, you’re going to get the same result every time,” Wesley said. Memorial is 12-0 at home with two more in Port Arthur remaining.

Wesley came into the game with 3:12 left in the first quarter and knocked down a three-point shot on his first touch. That basket and a fast-break make were part of an 11-0 run that got the Titans out of a 12-6 hole.

The Titans also had strong games from Jyson Butler (14 points), who got the starting nod, and Darion Chatman (10).

“Jyson Butler and Wesley can give us basically the same things,” Coleman said. “They can score. So I already knew they were probably going to try to take Wesley away and stuff like that. Jyson came in and played big.”

Although the Jaguars didn’t make a shot during a 4 ½-minute span going into the second quarter, they controlled the offensive glass. An 8-3 run backed by two treys got them within 30-27 at halftime.

Kasen Harrison scored 15 points, making two of the Jaguars’ seven three-pointers. Jacolby Veasie added 10.

Memorial visits Lumberton on Tuesday.

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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