Basketball: Team play critical to Northwest’s playoff run

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, March 10, 2018
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Battling for Number 1

BATTLING FOR NO. 1 – The Northwest Texans will play in the 5A title game against Port Arthur at the Alamodome Saturday. Photo courtesy Stephen Spillman

Northwest coach Mike Hatch said after the Texans’ 5A state semifinal victory Thursday his team has a knack for winning.

That might be an understatement.

Reece Waddell

Northwest has won 18 straight games dating back to December, and has kept its winning streak alive in a variety of ways. The Texans have beaten teams who want to slow the pace. They’ve beaten teams who have taken away leading scorer Avery Anderson. They’ve beaten teams who played zone and forced Northwest to make shots from the perimeter.

Nothing has stopped them.

In case they haven’t made it abundantly clear, the Texans are going to be a tough out. Six teams have tried so far in the playoffs and none have succeeded in sending Northwest home.

One final team – Port Arthur Memorial – will get a crack at spoiling the Texans’ bid for a state championship Saturday afternoon. But if Thursday against Alamo Heights was any indication, Northwest will be ready for anything thrown at them.

The Texans overcame early foul trouble, poor execution and sloppy mistakes in the first half against a talented Mules team to earn a spot in the 5A final. While Sammie Freeman stole the show with his eye-popping 13-point, 17-rebound double-double, it seemed like every Northwest player who stepped on the court played a part in the victory, as they have all season.

“It took everybody,” Freeman said after the semifinal. “Everybody contributed in some part – in some way.”

Hatch went as far as to call it the story of the Texans’ season. Four of Northwest’s five starters finished in double figures against Alamo Heights. On a team filled to the brim with talent, the Texans have hardly been a one-man wrecking crew this year.

At times, certain players have taken over games. Anderson had a 35-point performance against Sherman in the bi-district round, but then Mason Hix led the team in scoring the next two games.

In the regional quarterfinal, Darrell Simpson’s sheer size and presence in the paint helped Northwest stave off an upset bid by Fort Worth Southwest. In the regional final, Julien Smith hit a 3-pointer inside of two minutes to seal Northwest’s victory.

Then on Thursday, it was Freeman’s turn.

The Texans don’t care who leads them in scoring. They don’t care who is in the limelight after a game.

All they care about is winning a championship.

Reece Waddell is the Messenger’s sports editor.

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