SPORTS HEADLINES

Basketball: Northwest has plenty to be proud of

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018
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Falling Just Short

FALLING JUST SHORT – Northwest junior Avery Anderson goes up for a shot against Port Arthur. Anderson finished with eight points before fouling out. Photo courtesy Stephen Spillman

Saturday in San Antonio, an unstoppable force met an immovable object.

Northwest entered the 5A title game on an 18-game winning streak, while Port Arthur had won 25 in a row. Both teams were on incredible runs with high-octane, electrifying players.

Something had to give.

As the fouls started to pile up for the Texans, their offense began to sputter. Northwest’s leading scorer, Avery Anderson, had three fouls by halftime. But as they had done time and time again this season, the Texans did not panic.

Rallying the Troops

RALLYING THE TROOPS – Northwest coach Mike Hatch urges his team on during the 5A finals against Port Arthur. Photo courtesy Stephen Spillman

Northwest had plenty of options offensively – and one by one, they got in foul trouble. At one point in the fourth quarter, four of the Texans’ five starters had four fouls. On the verge of fouling out, Northwest knew they had to back off the aggressiveness to stay in the game.

Port Arthur took advantage.

With Northwest unable to match the Titans’ intensity level, Port Arthur began chipping away at the Texans’ lead. Northwest led for the first three quarters until foul trouble finally caught up with them. Port Arthur sensed a weakness and amped up its defensive pressure until the Texans finally caved.

Sammie Freeman was the first to foul out in the fourth quarter. Anderson and Julien Smith followed suit shortly after. As frustration set in, the Titans only got stronger.

Northwest was outscored 30-19 in the fourth quarter, a product of both Port Arthur’s defense and the Texans’ self-inflicted foul trouble. Northwest coach Mike Hatch conceded after the game MVP Darion Chatman took over, adding the Texans had no answer for him.

No matter what defense Northwest threw at Port Arthur, Chatman answered the bell.

He finished with 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting, injecting life into the Titans and spoiling a tremendous campaign by the Texans.

Northwest players talked repeatedly about last season and how they were just happy to be in the state tournament. Last year, the Texans fell in the 5A semifinal, losing 82-59 to Fort Bend Marshall. Both Hatch and Anderson said leading up to the championship this year the goal was different – to win.

Shirts worn by Northwest students, fans and players alike read “There’s only one thing left to do – win the whole thing.”

They just came up short.

Except this time around in the Alamo City, the Texans were just eight minutes from a state title. Not only did they make amends for last season’s semifinal loss, Northwest showed the entire state its program is one of the best around.

They may not have accomplished their ultimate goal, but the Texans have plenty to hang their hats on.

Reece Waddell is the Messenger’s sports editor.

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