BOYS PLAYER OF THE WEEK — Memorial’s Kenneth Lofton Jr. takes extra pressure in stride

Published 12:19 am Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A common strategy used by the Memorial Titans’ opponents is to try to stop the Titans’ big men Nate Clover and Kenneth Lofton Jr.

“That’s a lot of game plans for other teams,” Memorial head coach Alden Lewis said. “They do that by throwing different defenses, maybe a zone, maybe a double, but I think we do a good job of putting them in different places in different spots on the court just to help them be successful. The coaching staff and myself come up with a good game plan to try to alleviate some of those things and execute to where they can have a good game.”

The extra pressure doesn’t bother Lofton much either.

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“It happens,” Lofton said. “Defense turned into offense, so we got the rebounds, put on the break and followed with an offensive rebound, which gives us the ball and we score. We’re 20-5. It happens in all the games that they try to stop us, but we play as a team and win. I play hard, keep the right mindset, listen to what the coaches have to tell me and play as a team.”

Lofton powered through the Port Neches-Groves defense to net 19 points in Friday’s 57-22 win, earning the honor of The Port Arthur News Boys Player of the Week.

“I felt great,” Lofton said. “I played my game I normally play. I played good offense and defense, executing layups and dunks and winning the game.”

“He did well,” Lewis said. “He’s been one of our solid players all year. That’s one kid that we look for on the offensive end and the defensive end, so he brings a lot to the table every game and he’s been stepping it up these last few weeks, so that’s been good for us. He’s not the only one that’s keeping up, but that’s one kid in particular that’s been doing a good job of stepping it up for us.”

Part of the reason Lofton assumed such a role on Friday was the absence of Amaree Abram.

“I think he had the flu,” Lofton said, “so I had to step up and play as a team and win the game as a team.”

Lofton will likewise sit out tonight’s game at 7 p.m. in Cleveland due to a knee injury, though he expects to be back in playing condition for Friday’s game against Dayton.

“My teammates can hold it down, and it’s an easy game,” he said. “We’re going to win Tuesday and Friday. I’m building my strength and working on my game every day. I’m doing more shooting, getting the right shots, hitting the right shots around the basket and mid-range.”

Lewis said with the number of graduates Cleveland had last year, they may play like a totally new team.

“It’s another district challenge. Every district game we’ve got to prepare for and hopefully we’ll come out on top,” he said. “We’ll travel there, so hopefully we’ll go there and take care of business.”