CHRIS MOORE — SE Texas is an underappreciated basketball hotbed

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, March 16, 2022

For as long as there has been high school football, Southeast Texas has been known as a high school football area. It makes sense. The 409 has produced several pro football players and even more college football stars.

This weekend, Beaumont United won it’s second consecutive 5A state championship and Silsbee made the state tournament for 4A.

United also plays in the same district as Port Arthur, Port Neches-Groves and Nederland. That district has had someone make the championship tournament five times in the past nine years. Beaumont Central and Ozen both made it in consecutive years. Memorial made it in 2018 and now BU made back-to-back appearances. That is before you count the girl’s side, which saw Hardin-Jefferson make back-to-back appearances as well the past two seasons.

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During the tournament, another Southeast Texas basketball team of the past was honored. Members of the 1995 Lincoln team showed up to San Antonio to be honored for their accomplishment more than 25 years ago. The team was originally supposed to be honored in 2020, but the pandemic delayed the ceremony.

Lincoln has several state titles on the resume along with the Beaumont schools.

It is no secret that football has the biggest draw. Just check any stadium on a Friday night. The energy in the towns is different as game time approaches.

There is also nothing quite like a big-time game between two basketball powerhouses. In 2019, Memorial and Beaumont United played in front of crowds that had to make fire marshals nervous.

People were being turned away because the gym reached capacity with an electric crowd. It was the Bum Phillips Bowl of basketball for those who need the comparison.

Texas is, and will always be, a football state. In Southeast Texas, the lights of high school athletics will always shine brightest on Friday night, but basketball should have a place in the conversation.

United has played their last game in the district as the Timberwolves move up to 6A next year. That means for the district to keep it’s stronghold on the state tournament Memorial will have to rise again or another school, perhaps Nederland or PNG, will have to step up to the challenge. The district needs a strong rivalry. Even over the past few years, Nederland and PNG’s games against each other were fun because the students cared enough to make it fun. Now, lets add some stakes to the game and hope Memorial returns to state-contending form.

 

Chris Moore is the sports editor for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at chris.moore@panews.com.