PLAYER OF THE WEEK — Asaad Bodden finding role on familiar Titans: Memorial, Nederland vie for first tonight

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Despite playing for another school for his previous three high school years, Asaad Bodden knows the Memorial Titans quite well. He played basketball with this same group growing up and, as he says, the chemistry is still there.

“We would play AAU together and we’d been playing AAU together since 6-7, it’s just been the same,” Bodden said. “We’ve all been staying in close contact even while I was at Kelly, I’ve been staying in contact with them, talk to them at least once, twice a week. When I came back I just got right back in; we already knew each other.”
When a few starters were unavailable for last week’s game against Cleveland, Bodden stepped up his game, Titans head coach Alden Lewis said.

“Asaad has been stepping up lately. He’s been getting better and better as the season goes on. He’s one of those new guys that we can depend on each game, and against Cleveland he rose to the occasion.”

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Asaad, who put up 21 points against Cleveland in the Titans’ 60-53 win last Tuesday, is named The Port Arthur News Player of the Week.

“I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” Bodden said. “My teammates trusted me throughout the process in that moment with the ball and sharing the ball. We did it as a team and won the game as a team.”

Bodden played all three years at Kelly Catholic High School in Beaumont, but his transition with the Titans in Port Arthur has been a smooth one.

“He’s learning the system and he’s starting to play good basketball,” Lewis said. “We look for him on offense and defense ,and he’s doing a good job of doing what we ask him to do. Once he came over, it wasn’t anything new for him. He knew all the guys here; he’s just joined in. He didn’t stand out because he was a new guy. He just came right in and fit in with all of the other guys.”

Memorial is also closer to home of Bodden, and he liked the Titans’ basketball program. He brought with him his skill in ball handling, shooting and defending, the latter of which is heavily emphasized on the team.

“He defends, and that’s the expectation from everybody,” Lewis said. “So he’s doing a pretty good job in his role, and I’m just looking for him to get better and better each game.”

Defense is going to be key when playing another Bulldogs team closer to home. Memorial takes a short trip to Nederland, where the Titans and Bulldogs, both undefeated in district play, will vie for the top spot in the District 21-5A rankings at 7 tonight.

“It’s another challenge,” Lewis said. “Nederland plays well. They’re very well-coached, and we expect a good Nederland team [tonight], so we’ve got to step up and accept the challenge and play good basketball.”

The robust Bulldogs have the high-scoring Hayden Hefner, who scored 33 points against Dayton last Wednesday. Tyler Jackson is rounding the team out, though, adding 20 of his own in the Wednesday game.

Lewis says the Titans’ defense is going to have to be all-encompassing to hold the Bulldogs back instead of focusing too much on Hefner.

“He’s going to be a tough match,” Lewis said of Hefner. “He’s not going to A&M for no reason, so that’s a guy that we’re going to have to be on the lookout for, but that’s a well-rounded team we’re going to have to play a complete defensive game [against], and I think if we do that, we’ve got a pretty good chance. It’s going to take our guys to defend well and execute. It’s the last game in [the first round of] district and we want to go into our bye on a good note.”

Bodden knows his role on the Titans squad, which he says is what gets him success on the court.

“We have two, three other Division I guys, so it’s knowing my role,” he said. “It’s handling the ball, defend. That’s our main focus, defend, catch and shoot, making plays off the dribble, sharing the ball with my teammates.”

For Bodden the strategy is simple.

“Stick with the game plan and hope to come out with a win,” he said.