JUCO BASKETBALL: Seahawks basket shy, see win streak end at 5

Published 8:53 pm Saturday, January 12, 2019

One more victory, and Lamar State College Port Arthur would have had six in a row.

Not only that, it would have been the Seahawks’ fourth in nine days.
Instead, Gavin Kensmil scored 28 points off the bench, mostly on 10-of-12 shooting, and led Navarro College to a 77-75 win Saturday at the Carl Parker Center in a battle of Region XIV’s first-place teams.

“We played a good game. They played a good game,” Seahawks coach Lance Madison said. “I’m not disappointed at all. Our guys fought hard. We had a hell of a week. It was a challenging week, and I thought we had a lot of success.”

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Lamar State (12-6, 4-3 in Region XIV) nearly extended its longest winning streak in two seasons, which started with routs of Victoria College and Lone Star College-Tomball on Dec. 30-31. The next two wins, at home over Trinity Valley and Kilgore College, were decided by two or fewer points, so the South Zone-leading Seahawks were set for another down-to-the-wire battle against the East-leading Bulldogs (16-1, 6-0).

“The thing is, about this league and this game, you’ve got good opponents, but as a team together, I feel like we can beat anybody,” said sophomore forward Devin Ellis, who led Lamar State with 19 points and four rebounds. “We might have come up short this time, but the main thing is to not quit because it’s a long game, and we’ve got all the time in the world to come back and make an effort.”

The Seahawks nearly made up a nine-point deficit in the final 2:54 and had gotten within 75-73 on a 40-foot shot by Ellis with 0.8 second left. Navarro’s Ja’Quaye James was fouled and made two game-sealing free throws, but Darion Chatman used the final 0.4 second to make a wide-open baseline jumper to fashion the score.

Lamar State led 31-25 at halftime, but Navarro established two crucial runs early in the second half, due in no small part to Kensmil, a Surinamese forward who’s one of five foreign players on Navarro’s team. He nailed a three-point shot to give the Bulldogs their first lead (34-33) since 18-17, and he had a drive to the basket to cap a 9-0 rally for a 50-42 lead.

“He was a load. He’s a good player,” Madison said of Kensmil, a transfer from Iona College. “I thought we played well. They’re a good team. They just made a couple more shots than we did. We had a good week. We’re going to get better.”

Ellis scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half. He made a free throw and scored on a well-contested hook shot with 48 seconds left as part of a 7-0 run by the Seahawks, only for Navarro’s Trey Pulliam to respond 14 seconds later with a floater.

“Devin Ellis has been a good player for us,” Madison said. “He’s had experience. He’s had a good week. He’s getting to be one of the best big men in the league, and I’m so proud of him.”

Tevin Baker was fouled on a three-point try and made all three free throws to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to one. Pulliam was then fouled and went 2 for 2 to push the lead back to 73-70, and Lamar State’s Nathan Bailey — who had hit two game-winning shots in the previous eight days — missed on a three-pointer from the right wing. Xavier Davenport all but put the game away when he made a pair of free throws.

Bailey had 14 points and four rebounds in a reserve role, and Devaughn Thomas scored 10 points and swiped two steals for the Seahawks. Port Arthurans Baker, Chatman and Jamyus Jones had 10, nine and seven points respectively in the loss.

Pulliam scored 12 points and Shakem Johnson totaled 11 for Navarro.
The Seahawks will visit Lee College at 7 p.m. Wednesday before starting a three-game homestand Jan. 23 with Blinn College.

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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