By MIKE MONTFORT —
Region XIV and V men’s basketball teams now are all on Christmas break, but many squads will be returning before New Year’s Eve to work off holiday rustiness and regain their edge before they re-engage in conference grinds.
Grind, it is. And grind it will be.
When play resumes, all Region XIV coaches and teams will be challenged immediately by a calendar quirk that creates a problematic schedule no matter how it is viewed — three league games within a six-day period (January 6-11), four games within nine days (6-14) and five within 13 days (6-18).
Ordinarily, the league has regular conference games scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but this odd scheduling will be an obstacle that all must face. Home and road, teams will be wrapping up the zone-crossover part of the schedule and transitioning into the first round of zone play. Some may view it as a make-or-break part of the schedule that may separate contenders from pretenders.
One league coach — Lee’s Roy Champagne — wryly referred to the Rebels’ upcoming five-game, 13-day schedule as a ‘Bataan Death March’ during a recent internet interview. That schedule includes three road games — at nationally ranked unbeatens Tyler (10-0) and San Jacinto (12-0), at Navarro where the Bulldogs (9-4) are 54-13 over the last 5 years, and at home against 2016 Region XIV champion TVCC and Region XIV Tournament semifinalist Panola.
Upon return, coach Michael Landers’ Bulldogs also have a treacherous schedule, perhaps advantaged slightly by three home games. NC hosts Angelina on January 6, Lee on January 11 and Paris on January 18, with tough games in small quarters at Jacksonville (January 9) and Blinn (January 14) sandwiched between.
SOME NUMBER FUN
Teamwise, the Bulldogs enter the holidays as winners of eight of their last 10. They are averaging 88.4 points per contest with wins by an average of 9.5 points. The ‘Dogs remain unbeaten in the friendly confines of Wolens Special Events Center (6-0). They have played more overtime games than any team in Region XIV and have an unblemished 2-0 mark to show for it. They are a 1-1 in two-possession games.
Individual statistical notables in Region XIV at the break:
- D’Angelo Hunter ranks fourth in points scored (234), sixth in per-game scoring average (19.5) and ninth in defensive rebounding (61). The West Virginia signee hit double-figure scoring in 11 of Navarro’s first 12 games and owns two double-doubles.
- Eric McCullom ranks sixth in total rebounds (101), 12th in per-game rebounding (8.4) and is second among offensive rebounders with 46 putbacks. He’s had two double-doubles of 14/15.
- Saint Hilaire continues to rank 8th in free-throw shooting percentage (80.9), despite missing two weeks with a hand injury. Averaging 9.1 points, he had four double-figure games, buoyed mostly by deadeye accuracy from the foul line in wins over Lone Star-Cy Fair (12-of-12), Lamar-Port Arthur (6-of-6) and Coastal Bend (8-of-12).
- Calvin Anderson ranks fourth in three-point shooting percentage (47.6). He’s hit 16 of his last 30 attempts beyond the arc, punctuated by a hot December when he drilled a combined 5-of-9 in conference wins over Lamar-Port Arthur and Coastal Bend.
- Javier Roper ranks 12th in blocked shots with 14 so far this season.
For additional reading, here are some links to Expanded Region XIV and Region V men’s basketball standings, as well as team-by-team schedules and scores: