By Paul Boggs
Jackson County Times-Journal
JACKSON — Portsmouth High School boys basketball coach Gene Collins, in his postgame media interview on Thursday night, admitted he started a younger — yet smaller — lineup against the senior-laden and host Jackson Ironmen.
Still, it was the same old athletic and talented Trojans having their way.
Portsmouth scored the game’s first 14 points, and never allowed the Ironmen within seven the rest of the way, en route to capturing a 73-48 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League victory in a makeup tilt.
With the win, the Trojans completed their fifth-straight season sweep of Jackson, winning their 10th meeting in a row over the Ironmen.
More importantly, Portsmouth moves to 11-3 overall, and remains tied with Warren atop the SEOAL at 5-1.
“We’re tickled to death to be 11-3 and 5-1 in the league,” Collins said.
The contest was a makeup matchup from Friday, Dec. 6, in which it was postponed due to inclement weather.
The Ironmen, who last played two weeks ago at Portsmouth and lost by 25 points (61-36) in that game as well, are now 0-15 overall and 0-5 in the league.
In between playing Portsmouth, Jackson had four of its scheduled games get postponed — and three of the four get rescheduled.
Thursday also marked Senior Night at Jackson High School, in which seven Ironmen seniors — Clayton Gilliland, Zach Lemaster, Tanner Allman, Tyler Neal, Daniel Phillips, Jordan Helman and Justin Jeffers — were honored in pregame ceremonies.
Perhaps Jackson coach Phil Howard starting five seniors — which ordinarily wouldn’t start together — played a small role in the Ironmen’s early deficit.
However, the Trojans — with a new full-court press defense Collins crafted this week —raced out to the 14-0 lead only three-and-a-half minutes into the game.
“This is your typical Portsmouth team. They are very athletic. In fact, they could very well be in the (Division III) Final Four again this year. It was the same point margin (25) as the last meeting, but it was quite a different way to get there,” Howard said. “If you’re going to get beat by 25, there is two ways to have that happen. You can do it where it’s a gradual thing and you lose six or seven points a quarter, or you can be down 14-0 like we were tonight. That’s a much more painful way for it to happen.”
Portsmouth turned 18 Ironmen turnovers into several transition baskets, including Ky’re Allison’s breakaway dunk — following a steal — only a minute and five seconds into the second quarter.
“Not that we have been bad, but we felt kind of stagnated coming into tonight’s game. We shifted the lineup up, changed some things around. We went really small, so we had to put a lot of pressure on, and we put in a new press we added just this week,” Collins said. “We really got the transition game going, got some guys in the open court and got some easy buckets. That’s what we’ll have to have as we go down the stretch.”
In addition, as Jackson started seniors Thursday night, Collins called upon freshmen Luke Purdy and Kendal Reynolds to make the start for the Trojans.
Even by-passing the junior-varsity level from the freshman team, what a debut it was for Purdy.
Purdy poured in a game-high 18 points on seven total field goals, draining a three-point goal in each period.
He scored a deuce and a trey only 15 seconds apart, giving the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
The Ironmen never came closer than 19-12 the rest of the way.
“We started Luke Purdy tonight and boy did he step up big,” Collins said. “We needed a short in the arm offensively, and he surely gave us that.”
Reynolds’ first-quarter field goal, off a pass over the top of the Jackson 2-3 zone, beat the buzzer for a 21-12 lead.
Reynolds added eight points on four field goals, as fellow underclassmen Sky Oliver and Allison added 16 points and 11 points respectively.
The trio tallied seven rebounds apiece, as the Trojans outrebounded the Ironmen, 43-36.
“We have not been as active as we needed to be on the offensive and defensive glass. Kendal stepped up tonight, and was very active. We’ve talked about getting those offensive rebounds and second-chance points, so I was glad to see we picked up a lot of those,” Collins said.
Allison’s three kept the margin at 14 (37-23) at halftime, as the Trojans extended the margin to 58-30 late in the third quarter, before building a 30-point bulge (73-43) with their 73rd and final point late in the fourth.
Howard said his Ironmen endured another slow start — in both halves this time.
Jackson was also outscored 21-9 in the third period to trail 58-32.
“I thought our kids played hard, but we just didn’t make shots when we had open shots,” Howard said. “And Portsmouth shot the ball much better tonight than when we played them down there.”
The Trojans held a 29-18 advantage in total field goals, and shot 45-percent from the field (29-of-65), including a sizzling 55-percent (22-of-40) from inside the three-point arc.
Allison amassed five of the team’s 20 assists.
The Ironmen — on the other hand — hit only 18-of-55 (33-percent), including only 5-of-20 (25-percent) from long range.
The Red and White were also paced by a pair of underclassmen, as Austin Leach — on five field goals and 5-of-7 free throws — led the way with 15 points.
Casey Walker, with two twos and two threes, tacked on 10.
Helman had a game-high nine rebounds.
Portsmouth 21 16 21 15 — 73
Jackson 12 11 9 16 — 48
Portsmouth — Oliver 6 3-16, Lisath 1-0-2, Allison 4-2-11, Lattimore 2-0-5, Dickerson 1-3-5, Purdy 7-0-18, Reynolds 4-0-8, Gibson 4-0-8, Totals 29-8-73.
Jackson — Gilliland 1-0-2, Jenkins 1-2-4, Leach 5-5-15, Allman 1-0-2, Walker 4-0-10, Crabtree 2-0-4, Neal 1-0-3, Phillips 2-0-6, Helman 1-0-2, Totals 18-7-48.
3-Point Goals — Portsmouth 7 (Purdy 4, Oliver, Allison, Lattimore); Jackson 5 (Walker 2, Phillips 2, Neal).
Records — Portsmouth 11-3 (5-1); Jackson 0-15 (0-5).