Seahawks basketball breaks into NJCAA national Top 20

Ty Woods (23), a sophomore guard for Lamar State College-Port Arthur, is ranked 18th in the nation in scoring average. He leads the Hawks into the Region XIV game Wednesday, Dec. 5, on the road against Paris Junior College. So far this season, the Seahawks are undefeated and ranked 19th in the nation.

At the onset of the 2012-13 season, no one knew anything about the Lamar State College – Port Arthur Seahawks.

Now, the word is getting out.

The Seahawks, at 9-0 overall and 3-0 in Region XIV play, have moved into the Division I national poll, landing at 19th after this past week’s wins over Trinity Valley Community College and Panola College.

“We’re honored to be listed among the top teams in the nation,” Lamar State coach Lance Madison said. “But our focus has to be on our next opponent. We can’t be satisfied with where we are; we have to move on to the next goal.”

The Seahawks entered this season with Madison taking over not only as the Seahawks’ new coach but as his first season as a head coach anywhere. Add to that the fact that not one player returned from last season’s Region XIV regular-season championship team and most folks weren’t holding out much hope for Lamar State as a basketball power in 2012-13. The preseason polls were indicative of a wait-and-see attitude among prognosticators as the Hawks were picked to finish sixth in the South Zone.

But as the Seahawks hit the road for Paris Junior College and a Wednesday, Dec. 5, 7 p.m. tipoff in a Region XIV game, they are the only team still undefeated for the season in the region and one of three without a loss in conference play. No surprise that Navarro is 3-0 in conference but new league addition Coastal Bend CC is also untouched through three games. Neither Navarro nor Coastal Bend are listed among the top NJCAA Division I teams in the nation this week.

Sharing room in the NJCAA Top 20 are Region XIV teams San Jacinto College-Central and Kilgore Junior College, lending credence to the long-held fact that the region is among the most difficult in the country.

“That says a lot about the tradition and the reputation of the conference we’re in,” Madison said. “So to be ranked along with teams like San Jacinto and Kilgore really is an honor.”

Paris, which is 6-5 overall and 1-2 in conference play, has lost two straight to Coastal Bend and San Jacinto coming into the showdown with Lamar State.

The Dragons bring three players averaging in double-figures, led by sophomore guard Eddie Leal with 14.0 points per game. Another pair of sophomore guards, Anthony Adams and Mike Harmon, are averaging 10.6 and 10.4 ppg. Adams has been the hot hand since conference play began, hitting 12.3 points per game in three outings.

Freshman guard/forward Ty Allen leads the Seahawks this season with 20.7 points per game, good enough to rank him 18th in the nation in scoring. Sophomore guard/forward Kieran Woods is hitting for 16.4 points per game, and Jamal Shabazz is scoring 10.8 per game with a team-high 8.3 rebounds a game this season.

Also working on the inside for Lamar State is 7-foot-1 center Anthony Allen. His 3.2 blocks per game has him ranked No. 5 in the nation in that category. This past Saturday against Panola College, he knocked down 10 blocked shots, seven coming in the first half alone.

“Paris is good fundamentally and they will play us man-to-man. We’re going to have to be strong inside and take advantage of our opportunities to score,” Madison said.

The Hawks will return for one final home game before the holiday break, taking on Bossier Parish Community College on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Carl Parker Center in Port Arthur.