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Port Neches-Groves hoops teams sweep Kountze; eye Hardin-Jefferson battles

PORT NECHES — Port Neches-Groves’ girls and boys basketball teams came away with wins in a non-district doubleheader against Kountze on Monday.

The PNG girls ended a three-game losing streak with a 53-33 victory over Kountze.

“It feels good to be able to get back in the win column,” head coach Lance Robertson said. “We lost three in a row. We lost the first two after (Shelby) Letulle rolled her ankle. She played against Nederland, but she hadn’t practiced for a week. That hurt a little. We had to get back to doing the little stuff that we were doing at the beginning of the year. We attacked the goal and got offensive rebounds.”

Robertson said he also stressed the importance of forcing turnovers. The Indians (8-4, 0-1 in District 21-5A) jumped passing lanes and stripped ball handlers the entire game.

“We didn’t do that as well as we wanted to against Nederland, but today we came out and did it,” he said. “One thing we have to get better at is not fouling and using our feet to play defense and not our hands.”

The Indians and Lions finished the first quarter with a 12-7 score in favor of PNG. The Indians outscored Kountze 21-5 in the second quarter, led by senior guards Paxton Shults and Avery Girouard, who both finished the game with 11 points.

“I thought they did great coming off a five-day break,” Robertson said. “We got here a little early and shot some, but that was all.”

The PNG boys team (4-7, 0-1 in 21-5A), also coming off a loss to Nederland, scored a season high in a 70-43 blowout win.

The Indians dominated the first half, outscoring Kountze 40-25.

“We moved the ball well,” head coach Chris Smith said. “We shot it decent, too. After the first quarter, we played with a lot more energy, too. If we can play with that energy, we can compete.”

Senior shooting guard Kenneth Muller led all scorers with 18 points, including four three-pointers.

“He’s been our most consistent scorer all year,” Smith said. “He’s been carrying the load for everybody. I’m really proud that he was able to get hot. His shooting has been pretty streaky from outside.”

PNG struggled to find the three-point shot early in the game. Smith said his team likes to shoot and is comfortable doing so, but he wants them to attack to open up the jump shots.

His team responded in the second quarter, shooting 5 of 7 inside the arch.

Senior post player Grant Pearson knocked down 12 points for PNG. Senior point guard Brady Nail, who had four points, played limited minutes as he nursed an ankle injury.

“District is the most important thing and he has had that ankle that has been bothering him,” Smith said. “He keeps saying that it doesn’t hurt, but it looks like it hurts. He is still our best option. He has been so good to our program for the last three years. I just hate that he has to go through this. We are trying to rest him as much as we can.”

Both teams will travel to Hardin-Jefferson Tuesday for non-district matchups. The girls tipoff at 12:30 p.m. and the boys follow at 2 p.m.