The Trojans held Minford without a field goal for the games final 6:47, defeating the Falcons 56-48.
"This was a win we had to have playing at home after coming off two losses," Portsmouth head coach Josh Shoemaker said. "This was very important for us."
After allowing 43 points through the first three periods, the Trojans clamped down, surrendering only five in the fourth quarter.
"It comes down to the old saying: 'defense wins ball games,'" Shoemaker said. "Our kids dug deep and got stops and took care of the basketball to win the game."
Portsmouth found its late boost from a couple unlikely sources late in the game. Seldom-used forward Tre Underwood and senior guard Jacob Stevens provided the big plays for Portsmouth down the stretch.
Underwood, a six-foot-two sophomore, made a basket that gave Portsmouth the lead for good when Anthony Williams hit him on the right block for a lay-up putting the Trojans ahead 47-46 with 4:20 to play.
On the next possession, Underwood drew one of his two fourth quarter charges, sparking Portsmouth's 7-0 run that gave the Trojans room to breathe late.
"Tre Underwood and Jacob Stevens willed us to win in the fourth quarter," Shoemaker said. "Tre plays JV and we needed a spark, so we put him in and he takes two charges and scores a big bucket."
Stevens, who started the game, but was scoreless through three quarters, scored five points and pulled down three rebounds in the fourth quarter. Stevens intercepted a pass and took it coast-to-coast to score Portsmouth's last bucket, and give the Trojans an eight point edge with 41 seconds to play.
"Jacob only scored five, but he won the game for us," Shoemaker said. "He makes plays that always matter. He's very important to our success."
While Portsmouth was riding high during the fourth quarter, the Falcons found themselves falling behind. Minford shot one-for-nine from the field in the fourth quarter, and only managed three free throws after Aaron Oesch gave them a 45-41 lead with just under seven minutes to play.
The score was Oesch's only basket, but the junior had a team-high nine rebounds.
According to their coach, a mistake in strategy led to some tired legs.
"I made a mistake as a coach," Minford's Kyle Copley said. "I didn't sub in the third quarter and get our kids a break. Our bench did a great job in the first half and I made a mistake and should have had three of those kids in there to give our starters a little break."
Both teams played road games Friday night, but the Falcons ran less players into the game than the Trojans. The group that played the third quarter out-scored Portsmouth 15-6 and gave the Falcons a two point lead heading into the fourth, but that lead would last just over two minutes into the quarter.
"We were playing okay, but can rely on our bench more," Copley said. "When your starters go for two straight quarters, they can really wear down. We talked about it at halftime, and I just made a mistake. It's that simple."
Minford started both halves with offensive charges. The Falcons opened the game, jumping to a 10-4 lead, led by Sean Smith who scored nine of his 19 points in the first period.
Coming out down seven after halftime, Minford went on a 10-2 run to take a 38-37 lead halfway through the third quarter. It would be in the lead or within three points of the Trojans from that point until there were less than three minutes to play.
"The kids played their butts off for us and any time you lose one like that, I can just blame myself. All in all, the reason we did not come out ahead was because I made a bad decision."
Disciplined play and setting the game's pace are what gave the Falcons their early edge and kept them in contention into the closing minutes. The Falcons took advantage by slowing down the Trojan offensive attack, and limiting their opportunities with a 34-24 rebounding advantage.
"Minford controlled the tempo and that had a big effect on us," Shoemaker said. "We wanted to get up and down and Minford did a good job of controlling the tempo."
Leading Portsmouth in the game were Williams and Andrew Bendolph who each had 12 first half points and 16 on the game. Williams added ten rebounds and a pair of late assists, helping Portsmouth to seal the victory.
"They hit the shots when they needed to and did the right things," Copley said. "We feel like if we can play with them, then we can play with just about anybody in our sectional. I told the kids after the game, that (we just played) one of the best teams in our sectional. So where does that leave us?"
It leaves the Falcons, for now, at 6-3 on the year with a home date with Oak Hill set for Tuesday night. Portsmouth, also at 6-3, will be off Tuesday, preparing for a visit from Logan on Friday.
CHRIS DUNHAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minford 15 13 15 5 — 48
Portsmouth 13 22 6 15 — 56
Minford—Smith 7 3 19, Price 4 1 10, Brisker 3 0 6, McKnight 2 1 6, Cowgill 2 1 5, Oesch 1 0 2. Totals 19 6 48.
Portsmouth—Williams 7 2 16, Bendolph 6 3 16, Horne 3 0 7, Link 3 0 6, Stevens 2 1 5, Cadogan 2 0 4, Underwood 1 0 2. Totals 24 6 56.
3-pointers—Minford 4 (Smith 2, Price, McKnight); Portsmouth 2 (Horne, Bendolph).
Records—Minford 6-3 (3-2), Portsmouth 6-3 (2-2).