Paetow rolls past Kingwood Park into regional tournament

By Tyler Tyre, Sports Editor
Posted 2/28/22

“We work on defense every day, and Coach Niemi preaches defense every single day,” Ingram said. “He says all the time, if we’re not playing defense then we can’t be in the game. It’s something in our program and so we go 100% all the time.”

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Paetow rolls past Kingwood Park into regional tournament

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Paetow has multiple players that can lead their offense on any given night.

There’s the constants on the team like Trevor Frank and Charles Chukwu, they are future  Division I players who can carry the team whenever needed.

But even when you shut one one or both of them down there are other options, that’s what makes this Paetow team so special.

“It’s an amazing thing to have,” said Paetow head coach Mike Niemi. “We’ve got seven or eight guys that any given night can score double figures. You might take Trevor away or EJ Roberts or Charles, but there’s three or four other guys that can drop 20. That depth of scoring just helps us tremendously.”

That depth was on full display Monday as Paetow easily rolled past Kingwood Park, 63-43 at The Woodlands gym in the Class 5A regional quarterfinals.

The leading scorer wasn’t a starter for Paetow, but Kam Ingram, who came off the bench to score 16 while also wreaking havoc in the passing lanes and forcing a number of turnovers.

In total, the Panthers forced 21 turnovers as a team, terrorizing a Kingwood Park offense that had been strong all season.

“Kam’s activity was phenominal tonight,” Niemi said. “That was the biggest thing for him. Kam getting steals and deflections, being active on that end of the floor, there was a bounce to his step on defense and it really created offense for him and energy for our team. It helped our whole team step up because then the next guy would bring that energy. We were a bit down, not playing our best, but he really sparked us.”

Kingwood Park battled early and it was tied 8-8 in the first quarter before Paetow started to impose its will, going up by five after the first.

Kingwood Park again trimmed the lead at the start of the second, pulling within two, but Petow answered back to go up 26-16 at half, as the Panthers defense was strong despite a subpar offensive first half.

“This win was huge for us,” Ingram said. “They brought their crowd and brought some energy and we just wanted to bring that right back. We played them last year in the playoffs and it was a close game, we just wanted to come out and make a big statement.”

Paetow continued to build its lead in the second half and put things away in the fourth quarter, as Ingram scored five straight, on two baskets coming off turnovers he forced, to help seal the game.

“We work on defense every day, and Coach Niemi preaches defense every single day,” Ingram said. “He says all the time, if we’re not playing defense then we can’t be in the game. It’s something in our program and so we go 100% all the time.”

The win puts Paetow into the regional tournament for the second straight season.

“Making it back to back is amazing,” Niemi said. “The program is excelling right now. The guys are doing the right things in the right ways. The most important thing is the defense. Like tonight, it was pretty phenomenal against a team like that and it speaks volumes about our consistency.”

The Panthers will face either Crosby or Nederland in the Class 5A Regional Semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at the Campbell Center.

“We just have to keep believing,” Ingram said. “Keep believing that we can do it. We’re good enough to win every game and go all the way. We just have to make it happen.”

Class 5A Regional Semifinal

Paetow 63, Kingwood Park 43

Points: (P) Kam Ingram 16, Abou Camara 11, Charles Chakwu 10, Idy Igbaroola 10, EJ Roberts 7, Trevor Frank 5, Tyler Woodward 4; (KP) Joshua Bartley 11, Kyle Connelly 8, Patrick Overmyer 8, Jesse Virmontez 6, Nolan Sexton 5, Brayden Jones 3, Hollis Stephens 2

Halftime: Paetow 26-16; 3-Pointers: (P) Frank, Ingram, Igbaroola; (KP) Bartley 3, Virmontez, Sexton, Connelly; Records: Paetow 31-5; Kingwood Park 29-5

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