BOYS BASKETBALL: Titans erase late-game doubt, put away Panthers

Published 10:10 pm Friday, February 2, 2018

In a span of about 6 minutes, Port Arthur Memorial’s 11-point lead vanished. Such an event hadn’t happened to the Titans at home this season.

Memorial scored nine unanswered points in the clutch and beat Ozen for the second time this season, 59-51, before another capacity crowd. The win is the Titans’ 16th in a row overall and 19th straight at home, dating back to last season.

“They came to play basketball,” Memorial coach Kenneth Coleman said of Ozen. “The game was about stops. If you can get consecutive stops, you have an opportunity to separate. But every time we separated, we let them get back in the game with careless turnovers and things like that.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

One game after pouring 35 points on Lumberton to match his jersey number, Thailan Wesley gave Memorial 27 points Friday.

“It was a good game,” Wesley said. “It was tough to battle Ozen, but we work harder, so we were going to pull out the game.”

The Titans (24-5, 11-0 in 22-5A) celebrated shortly after the final buzzer with cookie cakes, but the dessert didn’t commemorate either streak. The team celebrated third-year coach Coleman’s 65th career victory.

“It’s just another win,” said Memorial point guard Darion Chatman, who finished with 10 points. “My mom had been doing it for every 10 wins, but she decided to do one for every five this time.”

Coleman said the Titans don’t talk about the 16 wins in a row.

“We just take it one game at a time,” he said. “We know it’s district. District is difficult and long. The season is long. Tonight, [we] showed some resolve in the fourth quarter and made the plays to win the ballgame. I think that’s big.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Ozen (15-11, 8-3) tied the game at 44, completing a 22-11 rally that began with about 5 minutes left in the third. Braedon Lewis gave the spurt a boost by knocking down an off-balance three-point shot just inside the half-court line to beat the third-quarter buzzer.

Memorial, which never trailed, went back in front on a Nate Clover lay-in and made it 48-44 following a Jomard Valsin putback.

Ozen got within 50-48 on a Jakia Oliver reverse layup as he was fouled, but he missed the free throw. Memorial shot 8 for 8 from the line in the final 2:25 and, following a Valsin steal, Jyson Butler sank a three-point dagger from the right-hand corner with 1:05 left to make it a 55-48 Titans lead. Butler had 11 points for the game.

Tajh Mason and Oliver each had 11 points for Ozen.

Memorial can wrap up a share of its second straight District 22-5A championship Tuesday night at Nederland. Memorial is two games ahead of Beaumont Central, whom the Titans have swept this season, with three games remaining.

The Titans will visit Port Neches-Groves next Friday and host Livingston in its regular-season finale on Feb. 13.

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.

email author More by I.C.