PAM Titans punch ticket to 5A state basketball championship game

Published 11:00 am Friday, March 9, 2018

By IC Murrell

Port Arthur News


SAN ANTONIO — The 25th victory in a row for Port Arthur Memorial gives an entire town so much to celebrate.

The 26th straight would mean so much more.

“That’s one of the reasons I came back to Port Arthur,” said Kenneth Coleman, a native of PA who is now head coach of a program where he began his career 14 years ago. “We need a reason to smile. And I know basketball — when we were making some of those runs to state, [those] were some of the best times in my life. I definitely want Port Arthur to experience that.”

He was referring to the dynasty that was Lincoln basketball in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, Memorial is making its own history.

Memorial maintained its winning streak by beating Midlothian 61-49 Thursday in the UIL 5A state semifinals at the Alamodome. The Titans (33-5), the first Port Arthur team in 18 years to make the state rounds, will take on Justin Northwest, a 65-54 winner over San Antonio Alamo Heights, at 3 p.m. Saturday for the championship, and no Port Arthur team has clinched one in 23 years.

Midlothian, the ninth-ranked 5A team from greater Dallas-Fort Worth, finished its season 28-11.

The biggest victory to date in the 16-year history of Memorial High School comes 6½ months after Tropical Storm Harvey wreaked havoc on Port Arthur, a town that has produced nine state championship basketball teams. Lincoln won seven UIL championships between 1981-95, and the architects of six of those title teams, James Gamble (four) and current West Brook coach Andre Boutte (two) sat front row to see Port Arthur basketball history being updated.

The final result is no indication of how close the first 22 minutes of the game was. There were eight ties and five lead changes, with Thailan Wesley starting a personal 10-0 run with a three-point basket to get the Titans out of a 33-30 hole, their largest deficit of the game.

Wesley finished with a game-high 24 points, making 9 of 15 from the field, getting two steals and grabbing seven rebounds.

“I was feeling good,” Wesley said. “I was just going with the flow of the game, playing PA basketball like coach Coleman always teaches us every day.”

That was just the beginning of a 19-0 run that saw the Panthers not score for 7 whole minutes. Midlothian attacked the basket and got Memorial into the penalty, getting a three from Evan Marshall to pull within 55-44 with 1:51 remaining.

Memorial clung to a 56-49 lead after Kaden Archie who led with 18 points, sank a three-pointer with 50 seconds remaining.

Uncharacteristically, the Titans were not sharp at the line, making 17 of 30 for the game. Midlothian was 13 for 18.

Darion Chatman had 11 points and eight rebounds and Jomard Valsin scored nine points, totaled seven boards and dished four assists in the win. Marshall scoffed 13 points and had five rebounds for Midlothian.

Memorial’s state final appearance is the first for Port Arthur since Lincoln lost the 1999 4A final to Crowley. Thomas Jefferson in 2000 was the last from the city to reach the state final four.



A fan bus will carry Titan fans from the Port Arthur Public Library site to the Alamodome for the championship game. The bus will depart at 8 a.m. Saturday.

The fare is $47, but does not include tickets to the game. For information, call Kermit Casimire at 543-3779 or visit 2800 E. 11th St., Port Arthur.