Waddell column: Despite loss, Northwest has plenty to be proud of

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, March 10, 2018.
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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.

Reece Waddell

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.

Northwest had plenty of options offensively — and one by one, they all 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 simply took advantage.

Unable to match the Titans’ level of intensity, Port Arthur began chipping away at the Texans’ lead. Northwest led for the first three quarters until its 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 head coach Mike Hatch conceded after the game MVP Darion Chatman took the game 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-of-10 shooting, injecting life into the Titans when they needed it most.

Northwest talked repeatedly about how last season, they were just happy to be in the state tournament. Last year, Northwest was embarrassed 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.

They just came up short.

Except this time around in the Alamo City, the Texans were eight minutes from a state title. They may not have accomplished their ultimate goal, but Northwest has plenty to hang its hat on this season.

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