By Michael Hamilton
PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth Trojans won their season opener Tuesday night against the South Webster Jeeps, 68-61.
In the battle between the OVC and the SOC, Portsmouth would prevail, after several lead changes occurred in the latter part of the third quarter.
“It was a hard fought, tough game,” Portsmouth Coach Gene Collins said. “We overcame a lot, we knew Kendal (Reynolds) was battling a back injury, and didn’t know how much he could go. He would stiffen up in the first half, but we were able to get him heated up in the second half and was able to play.”
With the injury to Reynolds, and quick foul trouble for Kyre Allison, the Trojans were forced to play younger, and less experienced, players for a period of the game.
Portsmouth saw a comfortable command of the game in the first quarter, leading by nine points, 14-5 with only two and a half minutes left in the quarter. However, South Webster battled back, and went on a six point run to cut the lead to three points, 14-11, by the end of the first quarter.
In the beginning of the second, the Jeeps would tie the game, scoring nine unanswered points, and would ultimately take a 20-19 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the half.
The Trojans would regain the lead, and control of the game, as the second quarter moved on. Portsmouth took a 28-20 lead about halfway through the second quarter, and would keep an eight point lead 30-22 as the second quarter would expire.
“We had a lot of turnovers, and we knew South Webster wouldn’t go away,” Collins said.
Allison was forced to sit for the bulk of the third quarter, after getting his fourth personal foul in the first few minutes of the quarter.
With the absence of Allison on the court, the Jeeps controlled the third quarter, erasing the Trojan eight point lead. South Webster would take the lead 38-36 with two minutes left in the third.
The last two minutes of the third quarter was a tug-o-war with the lead. Each team kept coming up with clutch shots and short runs to give themselves the lead, until it was all tied at 45-45 at the end of the period.
In the fourth, Allison was back on the court, and made an immediate impact. He would hit a three-pointer in the first few seconds of the quarter. Allison would knock down a free throw, and another three-pointer, scoring seven points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter.
As the fourth quarter continued to tick away, Portsmouth led 62-52 with only 3:22 left in the game, but would soon see that lead dwindle in the next minute and a half.
The Jeeps went on a run, cutting the Portsmouth lead by nine, late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Jeeps, Portsmouth would never lose their lead, and finally defeated South Webster 68-61.
Allison’s clutch performance in the fourth prevented the final comeback attempt by the Jeeps.
“It was huge, you’re talking about a four year starter that has been through the battles,” Collins said. “When we needed him, he stepped up, and he stepped up huge.”
Reynolds also hit some key shots for the Trojans, as he was visibly uncomfortable with his back. Jordan Lucas gave the Trojans key minutes, helping the cause with several key stops with solid play, along with DJ Eley, and Daniel Jordan.
“He (Jordan) played the whole second half,” Collins said. “He got all the things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
South Webster coach Ryan Fenton said his team simply had too many turnovers on Tuesday night.
“We got caught up in the speed of the game,” Fenton said. “We didn’t capitalize on certain situations we really needed to capitalize on. It comes with a little bit of inexperience. All in all our kids played hard, we just flat out turned the ball over too much.”
One of those situations was the ability to take full advantage of Allison not being on the court for the bulk of the third quarter.
“He went out, and we made a little run to go up two or three, and then the next thing we know, we’re down two,” Fenton said. “It can’t be like that. When he is out of the game, we have to build that lead up to eight or 10 points, and go from there. We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities, and got a little too sped up there at the end.”
South Webster – Zimmerman 6-6-22, Bennington 3-2-10, Coriell 4-1-9, Hadinger 3-1-7, S. Blevins 3-0-6, A. Blevins 2-0-4, Wolfenbarker 1-0-3
Portsmouth – Allison 8-6-26, Reynolds 8-2-20, Leonard 2-0-6, Lucas 2-2-6, Jordan 2-1-5, Eley 1-0-3, Johnson 1-0-2
3-point field goals – Portsmouth 9 (Allison 4, Leonard 2, Reynolds 2, Eley) South Webster 7 (Zimmerman 4, Bennington 2, Wolfenbarker)