Nederland refocusing on offense to prepare for Shadow Creek

Published 12:17 am Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Nederland Bulldogs’ close 41-40 win over the Galveston Ball Tornadoes on Tuesday was their first playoff victory since 2014.

Because of that win, Nederland takes a trip to Barbers Hill High School on Friday to compete in the area round against Shadow Creek. The game begins at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s been a little while,” Nederland coach Brian English said. “We lost four straight close bi-district games in a row, so it feels good to finally win one.”

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The Bulldogs (27-9) came back from a 31-20 halftime deficit to tie the game with 1:45 remaining from a critical 3-pointer by Joseph Gipson.

Tyler Jackson made a go-ahead free throw with 15 seconds left.

English said Gipson’s 3 was probably the biggest play of the night.

“Joseph didn’t make shots early, but he’s one of our better 3-point shooters,” English said. “He was open, he knocked it down and tied up the game for us. Hopefully he’ll get some confidence from that, and it’ll carry over to the next game.”

Stellar defense saved the day for the Bulldogs, according to English, especially since the Bulldogs had trouble executing on offense Tuesday night.

“Defensively the kids really stepped up in the second half,” he said. “We played with a little bit more emotion, a little bit more passion. I don’t think they wanted to go out, so they really turned it up on the defensive end of the floor.”

Hayden Hefner was an integral component of that solid defense with six steals to go with 11 points.

“Offensively he struggled a little bit, but everybody’s trying to stop him,” English said. “He made up for it on the defensive end of the floor. He had several blocks, several rebounds and several steals, so that was a crucial part of our defense.”

English added that nerves probably contributed to the offensive lag, and the lack of execution nearly cost them the game. Galveston Ball (18-14), he said, came to the court more focused and ready to play.

“We finally settled in a little bit and chipped away at the lead,” he said. “It was kind of like what we’ve been doing all year. When we don’t play well, it’s the defense that’s carried us, and that was the case last night.

“We’ve got to get back into the gym and work on executing on the offensive end of the floor, do a better job of screening and taking care of the basketball.”

Shadow Creek (26-3), ranked No. 3 among the state’s 5A schools by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, defeated Houston Austin 73-46 during their Tuesday bi-district playoff game. The Sharks were knocked out in the area round the past two years by the Memorial Titans.

English knows that the Bulldogs are going to have to regain their focus before Friday.

“Their guard play is pretty good,” he said of the Sharks. “The kids inside do a good job of rebounding and defending, and they’ve got some depth. We’ve got to focus and be ready to play.”