CRANK UP THE INTENSITY: Indians descend on Nederland for next rivalry game

Published 12:17 am Thursday, January 30, 2020

Round two between the Nederland Bulldogs and Port Neches-Groves Indians begins at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Bulldogs will host the Indians, hoping to rebuild a winning streak after their sole district loss at the hands of the Memorial Titans on Jan. 21.

“We won a couple of close ones and I think we played Memorial pretty good for a little while, but we’ve got to string together some consecutive wins and get some momentum together for the last part of district,” Nederland head coach Brian English said.

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Nederland improved to 6-1 in District 21-5A and 21-9 overall with their 61-42 road victory over Vidor on Tuesday. The Bulldogs also came out on top in the last game with the Indians, winning 52-46. During that last time, English lamented the Bulldogs were held back somewhat by lackluster shot selection, but Nederland has shown signs of improvement, he said.

“Our kids are trying to understand as far as good shot versus bad shot, so I hope we can continue to do that,” he said.

The Indians’ defense held back some of Nederland’s most prolific scorers, Hayden Hefner and Tyler Jackson, in the last game, a fact PNG head coach Chris Smith is quite proud of.

“It think we did a great job playing them,” Smith said. “Their role players did a great job knocking down some big threes early in the game, so hopefully we can limit Hefner and Jackson like we did last time, but also do a better job of covering their role players and try to keep them from scoring. If we can do that, who knows what’s going to happen? Nederland’s a great team, and we’ll do our best to try to slow them down because they’re rolling right now.”

The Indians gave Dayton its first district win when they traveled there on Tuesday, losing 76-72, falling to 3-4 in district play and 12-16 overall. Smith says the season has been a rollercoaster with great highs and deeps lows.

“We’re just learning to grow as a team,” he said. “What we need to do is put back-to-back good games together. We’re looking to try to finish strong in district and make a playoff push.”

The Indians may be fighting off fatigue at this point in the season, Smith said.

“We’ve been practicing a little bit different to save our legs a little bit,” he said. “When you play a 30-game season, kids legs get tired. We rely on the jump shot so much so we’re trying to save our legs. Our shooting is starting to come back around and if we can stay shooting the ball, I think we have a good shot.”

The fact that this game will be another saga of Mid-County Madness should put some pep into everyone’s steps on Friday.

“Every kid wants to play in that game so I know our kids are going to go out there and play hard. All we’ve got to do is control the tempo and knock down some open shots to give us a chance,” Smith said.

Nederland expects the same.

“We know they’re going to come in there and we know they play really well against us,” English said. “The rivalry kind of helps both teams as far as intensity level so that’s what we expect.”