The Port Arthur News
SOUR LAKE —
SOUR LAKE – Don’t expect the Nederland boys basketball team to be fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd, because they certainly don’t want Tuesday gone.
In fact, the Bulldogs have thrived on Tuesdays since the end of December. Nederland hasn’t lost a Tuesday game in its last nine and are hoping to make that an even 10 when they take on Dayton at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Class 4A bidistrict round of the playoffs at Hardin-Jefferson.
That particular statistic is treading dangerously close to the absurd, since the day of the week probably doesn’t make Nederland play better. But, there’s a corresponding rise in the Bulldogs’ points per game on Tuesdays as compared to the rest of district play.
In those nine Tuesday victories, stretching back to the Gulf Coast Classic in the last week of December, Nederland has scored 63 points per game. In 14 district games, the Bulldogs are averaging 55.1 points per game.
Again, the day of the week speaks more to the schedule strength instead of being predictive of how Nederland will play. But, that schedule strength is something Nederland does have in common with its next opponent Dayton.
The Broncos are the only District 19-4A team to not win at least 10 games in district play. Dayton made the playoffs over the other 6-8 team in 19-4A, Barbers Hill, because the Broncos swept the Eagles this season. Dayton won the first matchup 63-51 at Barbers Hill and pulled out an 80-78 overtime victory at home on Jan. 24.
The Broncos averaged 53.5 points per game in district play and gave up 58.5. In their last four, when Dayton went 1-3, the Broncos averaged 10 points fewer per game while giving up the same number on defense. The Broncos also lost its last three games against the other three playoff teams Crosby, North Forest and C.E. King.
Still, the Broncos won 21 games and can’t be easily dismissed. Dayton has a strong middle presence in 6-foot-6 senior forward Bryan Alford. His twin, Ryan Alford, also plays in the middle for the Broncos and the two give Dayton height that Nederland will be hard-pressed to answer.
Senior guard Dylan Matthews and freshman Jacarius Keener provide scoring from the backcourt for the Broncos and should be a tough test for Zach English, Jared Lorimier and the rest of Nederland’s guards.
As much as Dayton will provide some matchup problems, the real key to the game will be Nederland’s own play. As the Bulldogs finished the season 2-2, scoring just 47.5 ppg during that stretch, it was the play of stars English and sophomore forward Colton Weisbrod that were key.
In losses to both Central and Ozen on the road, English and Weisbrod struggled to get to double-digit scoring, as Weisbrod was denied opportunities in the post and English’s shooting was off the mark. If the Bulldogs are going to make a run in the playoffs, they need both of those guys hitting on all cylinders to with their lockdown defense.
Part of that success will come from Weisbrod and senior forward Jayson Lubera’s impact inside. If the Bulldogs can work the ball into those two, it will not only open up easy scoring opportunities, but also open up the Bulldog shooters on the outside.
Either way, Tuesday needs to continue to be good for Nederland or else their season will be gone with the wind.