Indians, Sharks end seasons in first round

Published 12:05 am Thursday, February 27, 2020

While the Nederland Bulldogs and Memorial Titans continue their playoff run heading into the area round on Friday, 5A’s Port Neches-Groves and 2A’s Sabine Pass were eliminated by their bi-district opponents on Tuesday.

5A: Crosby 61, Port Neches-Groves 50

In the first half at Goose Creek Memorial High School, the Port Neches-Groves Indians (14-20) were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing, head coach Chris Smith said.

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That level of execution got the Indians to lead Crosby 21-20 at halftime.

“We controlled the tempo,” Smith said. “We got them to play our style and we knocked down some big shots and hit some free throws. We limited our turnovers. The kids did a great job of sticking to the game plan on offense. We tried to keep the pace slow and not let them get out and run. We rebounded really well and took care of the ball, which was key for us in the first half.”

The third quarter was a different story. The Indians saw themselves fall into foul trouble, and three turnovers let the Cougars get away with an 8-0 run that the Indians never recovered from.

Brady Nail picked up his fourth foul with a minute left. In the fourth quarter, the Indians brought the game within 54-48 but missed the chance to make it a single-possession game and the Cougars finished with a series of free throws.

Smith said Crosby came back to the court in the second half with a new press, which the Indians hadn’t seen often in film.

“Crosby did a great job of adjusting at halftime,” he said. “It took us a little while to figure out but I think we gave them all they wanted.”

2A: Zavalla 66, Sabine Pass 62

In Warren, Sabine Pass played strong in the latter three quarters, but that first proved to be too slow a start for the Sharks, who lost to Zavalla 66-62.

“I think the boys were a bit nervous,” head coach Chad Bryan said. “With it being a playoff game and us having a real chance of winning, we just started off slow. We scored six points in the first quarter, which is much lower than what we normally do. We just struggled putting the ball in the basket.”

The Sharks found their resolve again to make a good run at a comeback, cutting the Zavalla lead to five by the half and by two heading into the fourth quarter.

Down by two, a three-pointer from Jeremy Fontenot was waved off due to a charging call against Harold James with 30 seconds left in the game.

“That sucked the life out of them whenever that happened, because there were about 30 seconds left and that shot would have put us up by one,” he said. “It was probably the right call. Harold attacks the basket really aggressively and they were trying to take charges all night. Then they got the one that counted.”

Despite the first quarter slog, the Sharks played with energy the rest of the game, which kept them competitive with the Eagles.

“We played with a lot of intensity,” Bryan said. “It was one thing we talked about all year, that the energy has to be there. When the game slows down like it did Tuesday night, points are hard to come by. However, we ended up scoring 62 and that’s above our average this season. We figured it out after that first quarter, but they just shot it well. It was more that they had two kids that could shoot the ball exceptionally well, but it was a team effort.”

The Sharks finished their season 17-17.