PORTSMOUTH — Perhaps Portsmouth’s Lady Trojans would have had one last out-of-bounds opportunity, and henceforth an attempt at a game-winning shot against Rock Hill.
Simply put, and truth be told, the Lady Trojans just never got the ball when they were supposed to.
In a blur of events at the end of Monday night’s Ohio Valley Conference contest, Portsmouth head coach Amy Hughes was assessed a technical foul with a mere six seconds remaining —but the Lady Trojans trailing 48-47 when it happened.
Rock Hill’s Hazley Matthews made two technical-foul free throws, Portsmouth freshman Sienna Allen’s attempt at a game-tying 35-footer was off the mark, and the Redwomen escaped Trojan Arena with a 50-47 nail-biting victory that was close, competitive, and hotly-contested from beginning to end.
There were a dozen lead changes and nine ties throughout, as Rock Hill scored the opening five points in the first three minutes and 35 seconds for its largest lead —while Portsmouth’s largest margin was only at three points, at 14-11 and opening in the second stanza.
The 10th lead change, thanks to Matthews making her final of her four three-pointers, occurred with only nine minutes and 25 tics to play —making it 39-38.
But three times in the fourth the Lady Trojans tied it, before Allen’s two good free throws with 28 seconds left made it 47-46 in favor of Portsmouth.
However, Matthews immediately answered —needing only eight-and-a-half seconds to drive all the way for a layup.
That’s when it really got interesting —with the good-sized crowd in Trojan Arena on its feet for both sides.
Against the Redwomen press, Allen inbounded the ball for the Lady Trojans to fellow freshman KK Mays, who passed ahead to sophomore Daysha Reid.
Reid lost the ball on a Rock Hill steal, but briefly stole it back before it went out of bounds, but the ball certainly appeared to be last touched by Rock Hill.
Hughes certainly thought so, with six seconds remaining.
The veteran and highly-successful coach raced down to alert the officials of the possession, which two officials agreed was to be Portsmouth basketball under the basket.
One official, David Pitkin, was readying the ball for inbounds to Rock Hill —as Hughes was vehemently arguing that it was in fact Portsmouth possession.
Suddenly, one of the two women officials gave Hughes a technical foul —which meant Redwomen free throws first from Matthews, and then the ball out of bounds to Rock Hill.
J’lynn Risner was fouled with four-and-half seconds left, and missed the front end of the one-and-one bonus situation, but Allen’s last-second buzzer-beating attempt didn’t go.
Hughes explained what happened on the apparent confusion — for what should have been a Portsmouth possession.
It was White (Portsmouth uniform color) ball, but the male official (David Pitkin) gave it to Red (Rock Hill uniform color). The other two officials say its our (Portsmouth) ball, but he pointed the wrong way and their girl goes to take the ball out. I went and told his daughter who was the other official that it’s our ball. So she ‘T’d’ me up,” she said. “It was our ball, but since I yelled at her father, she gave me the technical. The whole thing is my fault. The two women officials said it was our ball, but he was on the baseline trying to give it to Rock Hill. I guess I should have let them just figure it out, but it was definitely our ball. The technical was my fault, the game was my fault, so write that up.”
While the ending stole the show, it was a good close game to witness — between the second-place and third-place teams in the OVC.
The win raised Rock Hill’s record to 15-5, and 11- 1 in the conference —its lone loss to league leader and undefeated Fairland.
The Lady Dragons, incidentally, are 18-0 and 12-0 —with 35 consecutive OVC wins entering Thursday night.
The loss left the Lady Trojans at 14-5 and 7-4 —as they were swept in the league by both Fairland and now Rock Hill.
Portsmouth’s only other loss was a 45-44 heartbeaker against Waynedale on Jan. 14 —in the Classic in The Country at Hiland High School on a free throw with .7 seconds left.
That setback wasn’t easy, and neither was Monday night’s, but blame goes beyond one official’s ruling against the Lady Trojans.
The Georgetown College commit Matthews — against the PHS half-court zone — made four twos, four threes, and also 2-of-2 second-quarter freebies before her late technical two.
Three of those four threes came in the opening half, but her biggest bucket was the one with 20 tics to go —which put Rock Hill in front for good.
She finished tied for a game-high 24 points, as University of Rio Grande bound Haydn Bailey bagged 11 —on four field goals including three first-half threes.
Risner also added four field goals towards 10 points, as she drained a three-point goal and split a pair of free throws in the second.
Rock Hill only attempted nine free throws, but apparently didn’t need them with splashing eight three-pointers —seven of which were in the first half.
The Redwomen held a 28-24 advantage at the break.
“The girls really fought hard in this game, but Rock Hill is really good. One (Bailey) is going to (University of) Rio Grande and one (Matthews) is going to Georgetown (College). We tried to stop them, but didn’t do a good job of it,” said Hughes.
Allen, who didn’t play in the initial meeting against Rock Hill after suffering an ankle injury in the game before against Fairland, amassed a game-high 24 points —on four first-half deuces, and a three-pointer in the first 40 seconds of the second half.
She finished a fine 13-of-14 from the foul line, including 7-of-8 in the fourth frame — following a perfect 6-of-6 through the first three.
It was a solid showing for the five-foot and 11-inch Allen, as University of Dayton assistant coach Kalisha Keane was inside Trojan Arena observing her.
Sophomore Savannah Cantrell, the Lady Trojans’ six-foot and three-inch inside presence, netted nine points —on 2-of-2 first-quarter free throws, two second-quarter baskets, and a third-quarter stepout for a triple off an Allen assist.
Unfortunately for Cantrell and the Lady Trojans, she fouled out with only seconds remaining in the third.
Emily Cheatham (two field goals and split of first-quarter free throws) and Reid (first quarter three and fourth-quarter two) registered five points apiece, while Mays muscled for a pair of baskets.
An Allen steal and a Reid layup, with 4:44 to go in the game, was the first of the three fourth-quarter ties (40-40) —and the only other Portsmouth points in the period aside from Allen’s 7-of-8.
The Lady Trojans may have hit double figures for the canto, and may have even won, if only they had the ball in the final six seconds.
“The atmosphere and crowd were great tonight. It was loud, it was hot in here, the game was really competitive. College coach (Keane) in the house,” said Hughes. “We’re trying to build it, and I think it’s being built and continues to build. The enthusiasm was great, the kids played hard and had fun. We just didn’t get the ball back for one last shot.”
* * *
Rock Hill 11 17 12 10—50
Portsmouth 12 12 14 9— 47
ROCK HILL 50 (15-5, 11-1 OVC)
Hadyn Bailey 4 0-0 11, Hope Easterling 0 1-2 1, Hazley Matthews 8 4-4 24, Lola Hankins 1 0-0 2, Haleigh Risner 1 0-0 2, J’lynn Risner 4 1-3 10; TOTALS 18 6-9 50; Three-point field goals: 8 (Hazley Matthews 4, Hadyn Bailey 3, J’lynn Risner 1)
PORTSMOUTH 47 (14-5, 7-4 OVC)
Emily Cheatham 2 1-2 5, Sienna Allen 5 13-14 24, Daysha Reid 2 0-0 5, KK Mays 2 0-0 4, Katie Ankrom 0 0-0 0, Savannah Cantrell 3 2-2 9; TOTALS 14 16-18 47; Three-point field goals: 3 (Sienna Allen, Daysha Reid and Savannah Cantrell 1 apiece)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved