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PJC Dragons bring their 'A' game in 76-67 victory over previously undefeated Lamar State-Port Arthur

Antonio Arnold (4) drains a 3-point shot for a 21-8 lead for Paris in Wednesday’s 76-67 victory over Lamar State-Port Arthur. Also shown for PJC (from left) are Anthony Adams, Lamar Walker and Will Ransom. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra.com

The Dragons of Paris Junior College played their best game of the season Wednesday night, defeating  previously unbeaten Lamar State-Port Arthur 76-to-67 at the Hunt Center.

Delvin Dickerson had his best game also, scoring a team-high 16 points, including three 3-pointers)  and pulling down 12 rebounds. Will Ransom added 11 points, including three monster stuffs, and 8 rebounds.

In other conference games Wednesday, Navarro routed Coastal Bend 72-48, Angelina edged Trinity Valley 62-60, Kilgore got by Blinn 82-80, Tyler defeated Jacksonville 91-89 in overtime, and San Jacinto defeated Bossier Parish 106-79. In a non-conference game, Panola beat East Texas Flight 86-74. Lee was idle.

That leaves Navarro (4-0) the only team with a perfect record after two weeks of Region 14 play. Kilgore, San Jacinto and Coastal Bend are 3-1, Angelins is 2-1 and Paris is 2-2.

Most impressive about PJC’s win over Lamar-Port Arthur was the strong first-half performance despite only 2 points from the Dragons’ leading scorer (Eddie Leal) and no points from second-leading scorer Anthony Adams in the first 20 minutes.

The Dragons raced to an 16-4 lead over the first 6:59, with Dickerson knocking down two 3-pointers and 3-of-4 free throws. Chris Jones drove for two lay-ups, and Ransom scored after a rebound and made 1-of-2 free throws.

Then in came Mike Harmon, who nailed two 3-pointers before intermission, and Antonio Arnold had a 3-pointer of his own. By halftime, the Dragons had hit five 3-pointers to one for Port Arthur.

For the game, Paris hit 10 three-pointers to three by the visitors, and the Dragons finished with five players in double figures. Harmon had 15 points (three 3-pointers), Leal 12 (two 3-pointers) and Adams 11 (one 3-pointer). Dickerswon finished with 3-pointers, and Antonio Arnold had one.

The Seahawks had a great effort from Kieran Woods, who made 11-of-19 field goals, including two three-pointers, and a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line for 34 points. He was a one-man wrecking crew, making Lamar-PA a threat all the way. Ty Allen and Korbin McClain added 10 points each for Port Arthur.

Although PJC played its third straight game without its leading rebounder – 6-6 sophomore Mo Mitchell, who severely strained an ankle two weeks ago – Dickerson and Ransom controlled the boards. Their 20 combined rebounds were as much as the entire Lamar State-Port Arthur team got.

The Dragons play one more game — at noon Saturday against Eastfield College in east Dallas — before a 3-1/2 week break. The next conference game is almost a month away — Jan. 5 at home against Angelina.

“This was easily our best game, hands down – no question about it,” head coach Chuck Taylor said.

Turnovers – a problem for the Dragons in every game this season – were definitely present again Wednesday night, however. That PJC dominated the first half despite turning the ball over 11 times to only 1 for LS-Port Arthur was kind of amazing.

The difference was, although PJC gave the Seahawks those 11 unearned scoring opportunities, the Dragons shut down the visitors on defense, allowing them virtually no second chances.

One week ago, in a loss to Coastal Bend, Taylor bemoaned the inability of PJC to come up with any 50-50 rebound opportunities. Wednesday night, everything went the Dragons’ way in the first half.

The second half, PJC committed 6 turnovers to 10 for Port Arthur, resulting in totals of 17 turnovers for the Dragons to 11 for the Seahawks.

Jones was a spark early for PJC, but came out after picking up his fourth foul just 5:03 into the second half. He was on the floor just 17:53 of the game’s 40 minutes, while Ransom had 36:18 minutes to 34:00 for Dickerson, 31:8 for Adams and 27:36 for Leal.

Adams’ ability to handle the Lamar State-Port Arthur full-court press was a factor in the game. He frequently weaved through a double-team as he brought the ball downcourt. He scored all 11 of his points on five second-half baskets.

Both teams attempted the same number of field goals — 30 in the first half and 24 in the second half.

Over the first 20 minutes, PJC made 13-of-30, including five 3-pointers, while Lamar-Port Arthur made 10-of-30 including one 3-pointer. The second half, PJC made 17-of-24, including five 3-pointers, while Lamar State made 12-of-24 including two 3-pointers.

So PJC made eight more baskets, and seven were 3-pointers, a difference of 23 points.

Lamar-Port Arthur gained back 14 of those points at the free throw line, making 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) to 6-of-10 for Paris. Taylor said his team continues to commit too many fouls.

The Seahawks made 20-of-24 free throws on their 14 trips to the free throw line, while PJC made 6-of-10 on its six trips to the charity line.

In the second half, the visitors had made 11-of-13 free throws before PJC attempted its first free throw.

PJC’s free throws (2-of-4) in the second half came after the Seahawks scored seven straight points to close to within 72-67, then started fouling intentionally in the last minute and a half to keep the Dragons from running the clock out.

Paris twice grabbed a 14-point lead (18-4 and 24-10) in the first half and never trailed. Lamar State scored 10 straight points to close to within 24-20 and trailed by just 35-31 at halftime.

The Dragons started the second half with a 7-2 run on Leal’s 3-pointer, a drive by Chris Jones, and a dunk by Ransom.

Paris led by nine to 13 points for most of the second half – with biggest leads of 49-36, 51-38 and 59-46.

Woods (No. 21) scored six straight points in a one-minute span late in the game to pull the Seahawks to 72-67 with 1:31 left, but Harmon scored on a goal and two free throws in the final minute for the final score.

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