PDT Sports Writer
SOUTH WEBSTER — Entering this season, Steven Ater wanted to see who would step up for his South Webster ball club after graduating a class that included Austin Loop.
Lance Swords stepped up and at least on this opening night, and answered the bell. The Jeeps senior was 7-for-11 from the floor for a game-high 22 points to go along with his 11 rebounds and held Jayllen Carter to 17 points as host South Webster led wire-to-wire and defeated defending Division III State Runner-Up Portsmouth 54-39 in Friday’s nonleague action.
“I’m really happy for him and proud of how physical he played tonight,” Ater said. “We’ve challenged him in the past and said you have to step up and start doing more for us, not just be a scorer or a guy who can get to the rim a little bit. You’ve got to be a defender and a rebounder and I thought he took that on.”
The Jeeps opened the game on a 7-0 run, limiting the Trojans to a Carter three as the only field goal in the period. South Webster capped off the 13-4 opening stanza with an Andrew Salisbury floater at the buzzer.
Portsmouth clawed back in the second quarter, forcing the only deadlock at 21-21 thanks to a Ky’re Allison 3-pointer. On the next possession, Levi Cook’s drive forced Carter to pick up his third foul of the first half.
Cook connected on both free throws to put the Jeeps up 23-21 with 1:54 left in the half. The lead would not shrink below two the remainder of the game.
The Trojans tried to shoot their way back into the contest from the arc but finished the night at 5-of-26 from deep. They were also 6-for-21 from the charity stripe.
“We can’t fault our effort, our kids played hard from that standpoint,” Portsmouth coach Gene Collins said. “Unfortunately, we get behind and we never could get over that hump.”
The volume of 3-point shots concerned Collins with his young ball club.
“We were not patient offensively, we certainly were not wanting to shoot 26 threes,” Collins said. “But once you get behind and you’re playing with young kids for the first time on the road, we’ve got no flow and have no patience. We had a lot of forced shots.”
In comparison, South Webster made three triples in seven tries and was 17-of-20 from the line. The Jeeps out-rebounded the Trojans 50-36 on the night.
“We told them the game could be won in the paint,” Ater said. “We call it here in our gym The Red. If you can keep the teams out of The Red either on the drive or on the glass, we have a great shot of winning.
“Making them shoot contested jumpers was our game plan. They hit a couple of tough ones but we had hands right there with them.”
Cook added 13 points in the win and was two rebounds shy of a double-double. In his first varsity game, the freshman Allison added 14 for Portsmouth.
Both teams will wear different jerseys when they next take the floor Tuesday night. The Trojans welcome Wheelersburg for their home opener while South Webster is the home opening guest for Green.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Portsmouth 4 17 9 9 — 39
South Webster 13 12 14 15 — 54
Portsmouth—Oliver 0-2-2, Allison 6-0-14, Porter 2-0-5, Carter 6-3-17, Grashel 0-1-1, Totals 14-6-39.
South Webster—Swords 7-6-22, Fuller 2-0-4, Cook 2-9-13, Salisbury 4-0-8, Goddard 2-2-7, Totals 17-17-54.
3-Point Goals—Portsmouth 5 (Allison 2, Carter 2, Porter); South Webster 3 (Swords 2, Goddard).
Records—Portsmouth 0-1; South Webster 1-0.