BOYS BASKETBALL: Titans beat Wildcats 66-43, draw Knights with San Antonio on line

Published 9:11 pm Friday, March 2, 2018

HOUSTON — With Friday’s UIL 5A Region III boys basketball semifinal ending a quarter past 8 p.m., Port Arthur Memorial was left with less than 17 hours to turn around for its biggest game to date.

Senior guard Jyson Butler was asked to process the idea of being in such a position, one no Memorial team has ever been in the school’s 16-year history.

“Let me answer that for him,” Memorial coach Kenneth Coleman interjected. “We take it one game at a time. At the end of the season, we’ll do all that processing. Right now, we need to prepare for a very good [Fort Bend] Elkins team.”

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For the record, Butler didn’t answer much differently.

“We’ve just got to get focused to the next game,” he said. “We’re not going to do anything but go to the hotel, go to sleep, wake up and prep for the next game tomorrow.”

The Titans don’t mind the short time window at all.

Butler connected on five of Memorial’s nine three-point makes and finished with a game-high 17 points off the bench, helping the Titans dominate Whitehouse 66-43 in Delmar Fieldhouse.

“The team was giving me the ball, and I was knocking them down,” said Butler, who’s made seven treys in the past two games after going without one in the first two playoff wins.

The win gives Memorial (31-8) not only its 23rd in a row but extends its longest playoff run ever. The Titans will take on Elkins, a 73-63 winner over Bryan, at 1 p.m. Saturday for the regional title and a berth in next week’s 5A state final four at the Alamodome. (Playoff pairings will be announced Sunday.)

“I told the players, we’ve been preparing for this for a long time,” Coleman said. “Just execute the things we practice every day. I’m not going to ask them to do anything new.”

Memorial made 9 of 23 from the perimeter but more importantly limited shot opportunities for Whitehouse (28-7), which went unbeaten in District 17-5A and had won 14 straight. The Wildcats made only 4 of 19 from three-point range, with standout point guard Javier Neal and McKade Marquis each nailing a couple.

Jamyus Jones, who scored 11 points, hit three treys.

“They were in a zone,” Coleman said. “Sometimes, we’re probably not patient, but bottom line, like I told Jyson, if they’re open, I want them to shoot the basketball. I don’t want them to hesitate. I want them to take good shots. If they’re open, I don’t want them thinking twice. …

“You stop after one miss, and you don’t get the next one.”

The Titans never trailed and had already led 19-8 by the end of the first quarter, thanks to Butler’s personal 9-0 run. Whitehouse threw an inbound pass out of bounds with 0.8 second left in the frame after forcing a turnover, and Butler capitalized with a three from the left wing.

Whitehouse came within 21-15 after a layup by Jackson Mahomes, the younger brother of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was in the audience. The Wildcats got no closer.

Following a 38-24 halftime lead, Memorial traded its first two buckets with Whitehouse, but Thailan Wesley gave the Titans separation by scoring seven unanswered and starting an 11-0 run that lasted 6 minutes, 21 seconds. Wesley had 16 points.

Neal led Whitehouse with 15 points and Mahomes had 15.



Patrick Mahomes played on coach Brent Kelley’s first team at Whitehouse in the 2013-14 season, when he was named MaxPreps’ Male Athlete of the Year as a three-sport standout. He then went on to star at quarterback at Texas Tech for the next three years and made one start as a rookie for the Chiefs, who drafted him 10th overall last year.

The Mahomes brothers’ father, Pat, is a former major-league pitcher who was born in Bryan but finished high school in Lindale, located just north of Tyler. Whitehouse is just south of Tyler.

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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