Titans, Bulldogs fight for top spot in district

Published 12:13 am Friday, February 14, 2020

This is it for the Memorial Titans, their last game of the regular season since their bye is next Tuesday.

The No. 1 team in District 21-5A, the Titans, are playing the No. 2 team to determine if the Titans share the top of the hill or stand alone.

The Nederland Bulldogs’ sole district loss came from Memorial (28-5, 11-0 in 21-5A) on Jan. 21, when the Titans beat them 56-39 at the Dog Dome. If the Bulldogs (24-9, 9-1) defeat Memorial tonight, the two teams will share the district championship and then have to decide how to divvy up the top two playoff seeds, either through an additional tiebreaker game or by coin toss. Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. at Memorial High School.

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“Like any other game, we’ve got to take it as a challenge and we have to execute and win the game,” Memorial head coach Alden Lewis said. “It’s an important game for us going into our bye, so we want to go into the game on a high-note and finish strong and hopefully win district.”

Nederland head coach Brian English said his team is looking forward to the game.

“Everybody wants the No. 1 seed, so we’re looking for a good game Friday,” he said.

Lewis remains confident that the Titans’ defense will continue to give them an edge.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on and that’s what we’ve built our team on, and I think if we defend well and execute offensively and defensively, we’ll have a good shot,” he said.

English, likewise, says the Bulldogs’ own proficiency on defense has gotten better since they played the Titans . It will be important, he says, for the Bulldogs to get stops — more stops than they got last time.

“Defensively we have gotten better,” English said. “One thing that’s glaring for us coaches is that we were pretty good on the defensive side of the ball last year but I think we’re much better this year.”

English believes the Bulldogs can be more disciplined when it comes to shot selection and free throws if they remember they don’t have to rush the game.

“You have to have a very smart selection each and every time,” he said. “You have to value the ball better, you’ve got to get back in transition on defense. I think mainly, more than anything, you have to be able to stop them. You don’t get some stops, you’re probably not going to be able to beat them, because they’re so good defensively.”

Lewis says he and his team are familiar with Nederland’s squad and playmakers, and he’s telling his players to be ready to adjust.

“We’ve got to look for that, expect adjustments and be ready to play,” Lewis said. “I’m sure he’s going to make adjustments so we’re going to have to be prepared.”

At the end of the day, Lewis says the Titans will do well as long as everyone does what they’re supposed to do.

“If we continue to do our jobs as individuals, we’ll continue to be a good team,” he said. “If we do our jobs, we don’t have a choice but to be a good team. If we execute and everybody does their jobs we’ll be fine.”

The Titans entered district play with the full intention of winning the championship, but they will continue to take each game one at a time?

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to make a run into the regional tournament and take it from there,” Lewis said. “Our expectation is to run as far as we possibly can.”

English said his players have all improved this year.

“I think we are where we want to be, besides the one loss to Memorial,” he said. “I think we’ve grown and gotten better as a group. Our practices are better. It’s a long year, so all you can ask for is the best effort from your team at this time in the year. We’ve been getting that in practice, so we’re hoping that’ll pay off for us.”

Whichever team ends up as the top seed will play the fourth place team from District 22-5A, while the second seed will play the third place team. Before Friday’s games, Texas City leads District 22-5A at 10-1 while Crosby is close behind at 10-2, Galveston Ball is third at 9-3, and all three have clinched playoff spots. Friendswood comes in at fourth at 6-6 and Galena Park and Goose Creek Memorial both are 5-7.