The Port Arthur News
SOUR LAKE —
Say this for these Nederland Bulldogs. They certainly have a sense of the moment.
Despite being down by as many as 8 points in the final quarter, the Bulldogs doubled their point total for the entire game in the fourth, edging Dayton 58-55 in the bidistrict matchup of the Class 4A playoffs at Hardin-Jefferson on Tuesday.
Nederland (28-7) will play Magnolia in the area round on Friday at a site and time to be determined.
Junior point guard Zach English scored 13 of those 29 fourth quarter points for Nederland, displaying a knack all game for keeping the Bulldogs close. But, the rally in the fourth quarter had as much to do with Nederland’s team effort as it did with English’s play.
“They did a great job hanging around, ” Nederland head coach Brian English said. “We weren’t playing very well, weren’t taking care of the ball at all. I thought the kids did a great job, especially in the fourth quarter. It was the best one we’ve had all year. We’ll take it, definitely.
“One of the keys to this game was we weren’t sure, weren’t believing and then the light turned on. That’s a heck of a fourth seed. They did a great job, and we’re glad to get the win and stay alive.”
English ignited both the crowd and his teammates on a play that was started by sophomore forward Colton Weisbrod. After Nederland tried to drop the ball into the post and had it knocked away by Dayton, Weisbrod leapt between two Bronco defenders for the ball.
He was able to knock the loose ball out to English, who had started to sprint back on defense, but recovered enough to grab the ball, take a few steps to his right and coldly knock down his second 3-pointer of the game.
“Well, I was just feeling it,” Zach English said. “I knew we needed a spark and my first instict was to shoot it. I just let it fly because I had confidence in it. I saw he was in a little scramble, so I just kept outside and got the ball.”
The Bulldogs trailed 43-41 at that point, the smallest lead of the second half for Dayton and the closest Nederland came to the lead since it English made it 20-19 with his first 3-pointer.
Unfortunately, Nederland’s momentum was quickly sapped when Dayton’s Gamal Fowler hit his own 3-pointer, making it 46-41 and fueling a mini-Bronco run that pushed the score to 48-41 before Nederland scored again.
English and Hanley quickly answered with a pair of 3-pointers that cut the lead to 48-47 with three minutes to play. Both teams traded baskets at that point, with English adding two free throws to keep the Bulldogs within a point.
Though English got him there, it was senior forward Jayson Lubera who gave his team its first lead. Lubera grabbed a rebound after a missed shot by Weisbrod, putting it back for the easy basket and making the score 53-52 Nederland with 1:25 left to play.
Fowler wasn’t quite through answering for the Broncos, hitting another 3-pointer with 36.2 seconds left to make it 55-54 Dayton.
Lubera again came up big, feeding Weisbrod in the paint for an easy layup as the Bulldogs broke through the Dayton press, making it 56-55 with 19.3 seconds left. Though Dayton proved to be a bigger team with more length, they deployed half of their big men on the perimeter, trying to force the press and trap Nederland’s ballhandlers.
The tactic led to 16 Bulldog turnovers, but it backfired late when Nederland started breaking the press and immediately feeding Weisbrod or Lubera, who then had the size advantage on the much smaller guard under the basket.
“Their defense gave us some problems,” English said. “Those kids were long. We were kind of hesitant, so we never got into a flow. But, once we realized he could do what he does, it got going. Our ability to get position inside was a big difference.”
In a fitting way, a loose ball started Nederland’s comeback and another one ended Dayton’s. With nine seconds to play, Fowler had the ball knocked out of his hands by Jared Lorimier and Lubera dove onto the floor to recover it and call time out. After an inbounds play, English knocked down two more free throws to give Nederland its biggest lead of the night at 58-55.
English finished with 19 points and three rebounds while Weisbrod added 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Lubera had 5 points and six rebounds while Hanley added 10 points.
Nederland 58, Dayton 55
Ned 10 12 7 29 — 58
Day 13 16 8 18 — 55
NED: Zach English 19, Colton Weisbrod 12, Kirby Hanley 10, Jared Lorimier 6, Jayson Lubera 5, Jamiere Rogers 4.
DAY: Jacarius Keener 24, Gamal Fowler 14, Tyler Reynolds 11, Bryan Alford 2, Ryan Alford 2, Xavier Eaglin 2.
Statistics — Rebounds: Nederland 24 (Weisbrod 10), Dayton 15 (B. Alford 3, Fowler 3). Assists: Nederland 6 (Weisbrod 4), Dayton 11 (Fowler 8). Steals: Nederland 7 (Hanley 2), Dayton 10 (Fowler 7). Turnovers: Nederland 16, Dayton 13. Fouls: Nederland 13, Dayton 20. 3-pointers made: Nederland 5 (English 3, Hanley 2), Dayton 4 (Fowler 2, Keener 2).
Records: Nederland (28-7), Dayton (21-16).
Next: Nederland vs. Magnolia, Friday