The Port Arthur News
With under a minute to play, the Nederland Bulldogs held a slim lead and appeared destined to be in Katy at the regional tournament on Friday.
That’s when the ball, and Nederland’s season, slipped away.
Georgetown forced two steals in the final minute, converting layups each time and stealing a 41-36 victory over Nederland at Magnolia West Tuesday in a Class 4A Region III quarterfinal game.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” Nederland head coach Brian English said. “It was a hard-fought game. Both teams played great defense. It was kind of a grind, which we expected. We feel like we let one get away. That’s the way it goes.”
Nederland only had two more turnovers than Georgetown, but they both proved pivotal.
With the Bulldogs up 36-34 with 1 minute, 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Nederland forced a bad Georgetown shot and rebounded the miss. The Bulldogs made it over halfcourt, but quickly lost the ball as Eagle senior guard D’Andre Day popped it loose on the perimeter and cruised for a layup to tie the game at 36-36.
On the ensuing possession, Nederland didn’t even make it to halfcourt before Georgetown’s trap forced another turnover and senior Jacob Vick cruised to the rim for a layup and foul. After he hit the free throw, the Eagles led 39-36 with 17 seconds to play.
“We had our chances with a minute to go,” English said. “We had a couple little mistakes at the end cost us. They just got out there and made plays. Our two seniors had the ball and we were trying to get the last shot. I didn’t think we were in any kind of bind. They just got a tip and a steal. We didn’t want to shoot too early. They just made good plays at the end.”
Nederland had led for most of the game up to that point. After falling behind 2-0 in the first quarter, the Bulldogs failed to score on their first five possessions. But, a quick flurry of points put them up 7-6 and Nederland didn’t trail again until the third quarter. That’s also when Nederland had its biggest lead of the game at 22-13.
That’s when Georgetown went on a 15-4 run and took a brief 28-26 lead before the Bulldogs tied it up heading into the fourth. Zach English and Colton Weisbrod combined for eight fourth-quarter points, with a Weisbrod bunny in the paint giving Nederland that 36-34 lead with 1:33 to play.
“Defensively, we played well,” English said. “We just didn’t get it done. We didn’t shoot very well from the free throw line. We were 7 for 14, and that comes back to get you in these kinds of games. It sure did tonight.”
We expected a defensive struggle, I just expected us to shoot free throws better. We missed a couple layups early, which set us back.
Senior Jared Lorimier carried much of the scoring load for the Bulldogs, scoring 14 points in the first three quarters, but missed his only shot attempt in the fourth. Weisbrod added 13 while English scored 7. The junior Weisbrod also had a game-high 11 rebounds while senior Kirby Hanley had two rebounds, four assists and a block.
It was a bittersweet end for a Nederland senior class that had been to three straight regional quarterfinals and owned a 7-3 record in the playoffs.
“Jared had a great finish to his career,” English said. “It’s been my privilege to coach this group. They’re well-mannered, well-behaved, very respectful kids. They were very dedicated to what they did. I’m gonna miss them a lot.”
For Brian English, it also turned into the final game for him coaching his son, Zach.
“It’s tough” English said. “Zach and his friends, I watched them grow up. (Coaching them for the last time), it’s tough.”
Nederland finishes the season at 27-10 while Georgetown (29-8) moves on to the regional semifinals Friday at 5 p.m. at Katy’s Merrill Center.