BOYS BASKETBALL: Titans honored at Parker Center

Published 8:37 pm Sunday, March 18, 2018

After taking in a standing ovation at his Port Arthur Memorial basketball team’s championship reception Sunday, Kenneth Coleman began his speech the same way began his postgame comments following the Titans’ win over Justin Northwest.

“All praise and glory be to God,” he said.

It’s a vision from a higher power Coleman credits for giving him the vision to become a coach, going from a $170,000-per year job at a refinery to a $38,000 gig in his first stint at Memorial in 2004.

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“God had put something in my heart,” Coleman said. “I thought I had it mapped out. I went to North Shore and became a ninth-grade coach. I thought we were going to beat everybody. We were getting beaten by 40 points.

“The next year, I became a first assistant, and we won a state championship. You tell me that’s not God.”

Three years into the Coleman era of Memorial basketball, the Titans were blessed with a state championship, and a weekend-long celebration was capped with a program at Lamar State College Port Arthur’s Carl Parker Center.

Memorial (34-5) won the UIL 5A championship for the city’s first state title in 23 years. Coleman envisioned he could win state when he was hired as head coach because he had seen his alma mater, Lincoln, win seven titles in the 1980s and 1990s.

“We gave them an expectation and held them to it,” Coleman said of the Titans. “They didn’t always feel like practicing. But we asked them, ‘Uh, how many titles have you won?’”

James Gamble, the architect of Lincoln’s first four UIL championships, addressed the estimated 250 in attendance after his own standing ovation and shared what he told the Titans during a timeout late in the third quarter of the Northwest game after walking to their bench from his seat on the other side of the court.

“I told No. 14 [Jomard Valsin], if you don’t shoot the ball, we’re not going to win,” Gamble said. “I look up in the Alamodome, and he shot a three-pointer. And he made it.”

Gamble also told center Tyler Guidry he would have to play better and guard Darion Chatman to be the coach on the floor while leading scorer Thailan Wesley sat on the bench with four fouls. Chatman went on to earn the 5A state tournament MVP award.

“You’re the man,” Gamble told Chatman on Sunday.

Monuments honoring Lincoln’s championship teams are erected at the present-day Lincoln Middle School, and lawyer James Payne, who was a senior on Gamble’s 1986 4A title team, and his wife Tracie presented a check for $10,000 for a monument to be created at Memorial. Payne has a brother who was on the 1995 Lincoln title team, the most recent from Port Arthur before Memorial to win state.

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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