With less than three minutes left in the third quarter, Charlie Doll made a jumper, giving the Trojans 31 points. The scoreboard, however, kept reading 29, and for the rest of the period, Portsmouth was always two points behind its actual total.
At the end of third the problem got corrected, but it didn't help the team one bit as Ironton won convincingly, 77-40.
The two teams played evenly through most of the first half, with Portsmouth taking a one-point lead midway through the second quarter, but Ironton's defense was too strong, causing turnovers and getting easy transition points. A one-point deficit turned into a 10-point Fighting Tigers' halftime lead quickly, and continued to expand until the end of the contest.
Considering the effort the Trojans put forth in the last few weeks, including a heartbreaking loss against Northwest on Tuesday, Portsmouth coach Rick Hopkins didn't have much to say, except to give credit where credit was due.
“They were quick, they were aggressive, and that's probably the worst we've played all year,” Hopkins said. “We did things tonight I haven't seen them do all season. Ironton outplayed us and outhustled us. I don't think they're 40 points better, and hopefully the next time we play we can be more competitive.”
The Trojans committed 27 turnovers in the game, many were the result of Ironton jumping in front of attempted passes to the wing. Attempts by Portsmouth to move the ball around the perimeter was thwarted numerous times, allowing Ironton to get the ball down the court quickly and get points on the board. Ironton shot 55 percent (29-for-53) for the game.
Portsmouth shot 33 percent (13-for-37) from the field.
“I think we were more aggressive for a longer period of time,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon. “But we still need to get better defensively, and believe me, we have plenty of chances to get better.”
Usually relying on Dennis Gagai for their scoring spark,the senior guard didn't have to do much to help the Fighting Tigers. Gagai did lead the team with a game-high 18 points, but it was the performances of Mark Carter and Austin Carter that impressed LaFon. Coming out of halftime, Austin Carter scored the first six points in the third quarter, increasing the team's lead to 16. He scored 12. It was then Mark's turn, scoring nine of his 13 points to help keep Portsmouth at a safe distance.
“We've really been looking for a second and third scorer,” said Lafon. “We've had to pull Mark aside and tell him that he has to shoot the ball more. That's the only way we can get him to be aggressive. And because of that, his defense has gotten better, as well.”
Charlie Doll and Nicholas Chabot each had 11 points to lead the Trojans, who play at home against Gallia Academy today. With the upcoming game, Hopkins got a chance to rest his starters once the game got out of hand. Hopefully, he said, the team will be able to start fresh against the Blue Devils.
“Tonight was just one of those nights where have to forget and just move forward,” he said.
JEFF TAEPKE can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 242.
Portsmouth 10 14 11 5 - 40
Ironton 15 19 21 21 - 77
Portsmouth - Johnson 1 4 7, Porter 0 2 2, Doll 3 4 11, Chabot 5 0 11, Farney 2 0 4, Parker 1 0 2, Estep 1 0 3 Totals 13 9 40.
Ironton - Gagai 6 4 18, Walker 1 0 2, Phillips 2 0 4, M. Carter 5 2 13, Keith 3 2 8, A. Carter 6 0 12, Johnson 4 0 9, Tre. Allen 1 3 5, Troy Allen 1 3 6. Totals 29 14 77.
3-pointers - Portsmouth 3 (Doll, Chabot, Johnson). Ironton 5 (Gagai 2, M. Carter, Johnson, Troy Allen)
Records - Portsmouth 3-7. Ironton 5-3.