WAVERLY — “They want to make history and they keep making it.”

With a district championship and their season on the line, the Portsmouth West Lady Senators responded yet again.

And as West coach Larry Howell said when discussing his team’s desire, their chapter in the program’s history continues to be rewritten.

Facing an early double-digit deficit and a halftime deficit versus a young and hungry Portsmouth team, the Lady Senators managed to pull out a 51-47 victory in the Division III, Southeast No. 2 district final inside a rowdy Waverly Downtown Arena.

The final result of Saturday’s district final was in the balance with a minute to play.

West senior Sydney McDermott gave the Lady Senators a 49-47 lead with an elbow jumper with 51 seconds to play — an advantage West wouldn’t lose en route to capturing the program’s first district crown.

“It felt good for sure,” McDermott said, of the go-ahead shot. “It wouldn’t have happened without our spacing from everyone else. We all work for each other.”

With 29.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter, West senior Lexi Deaver gave her team a two possession lead at 51-47 by nailing a pair of free throws.

Deaver finished with a team-high 17 points as she nailed four of West’s six-made three pointers.

“It’s so exciting — the feeling is incredible. We’ve all dreamed about this since we were tiny, when we just started basketball. It feels great.”

West senior Lexi Deaver (22) lifts the Division III district championship trophy in the air following the Lady Senators 51-47 win over Portsmouth.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

In addition to putting the game on ice, Deaver also helped keep the Lady Senators afloat early on as she scored half of her team’s first half points — including eight in the first quarter.

West wasn’t rattled in the slightest despite an early 12-2 and seven-point halftime deficit because of their experience in big games, Howell explained after the net-cutting celebration.

They took their first lead at 30-29 with 3:24 left in the third quarter when senior Maelynn Howell grabbed an offensive rebound and sent the ball over the out-stretched arm of Portsmouth sophomore Savannah Cantrell.

“We’ve got a lot of experience, been in a lot of tough games. The board in the locker room says ‘Weather the storm’ because we knew they were going to make shots,” Howell said. “Allen and Reid are really good basketball players. Told them to keep fighting and these girls are just relentless.”

Portsmouth freshman Sienna Allen led all scorers with 22 points in the district final.

Her coast to coast layup ahead of the third quarter buzzer tied the game at 36-all and set up what would be a winner-take-all fourth.

Sophomores Daysha Reid and Savannah Cantrell each nailed three three pointers for the Lady Trojans.

Cantrell led all scorers with 10 points after the first quarter.

Reid’s three pointers in the fourth quarter gave Portsmouth leads of 39-36 and 42-40.

Lady Trojan coach Amy Hughes had high praise for her players for surpassing public and their own expectations prior to the season.

“West is a good team. I’m proud of my six kids — the grit they have and the effort they show, they’re just really good people,” Hughes said. “They work hard and they’re great kids. I’d take them to war with me. You have to be a special type of kid to have six players and make the district finals. I think we shocked a lot of people, I don’t think we’ll shock anyone anymore.”

West junior Emma Sayre scored 10 of her 11 points in the second half as the Lady Senators rallied — including a huge three pointer in the early fourth from the far corner to tie the game at 39-all.

“They came out hitting all their hitting shots and we weren’t hitting very many. “In the locker room we just talked about the atmosphere, needing to play our game,” Sayre said. “Talked to the girls and just said we need to be confident in our shots.”

West’s front-court in McDermott and Maelynn Howell scored 14 of their 17 points in the second half.

West senior Maelynn Howell (1) gets a piece of a shot attempt by Portsmouth freshman Sienna Allen (1) during their meeting in a Division III district final.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

“We were really locked in defensively, we still held them to 25 in the first half even though they hit some shots,” Larry Howell said. “Charlie Jo (Howard) did a great job when we stuck her on Allen after Emma got in foul trouble. Told them at half that we’ll start making some shots in the second half. Lexi starts getting going, Emma starts going downhill and getting fouled. Maelynn responded to the challenge we had for her to rebound — I don’t know how many she had, but it was a lot. Sydney’s one of the greatest kids I’ve ever coached. You tell her something once and she’s got it. Gets in 20 minutes before and stays 20 minutes after getting shots up. Hard work pays off and that kids knows that.”

Portsmouth returns each of their six players from their tournament roster. Their lone junior is Emily Cheatham, a three-year starter with the program.

“It definitely won’t be the last time,” Hughes said, on her young group playing in the district final. “I can’t wait to start with my six, my eight graders — we can’t wait to be back here next year. I know they’ll keep going and they know they will.”

West (24-1) advances to the Region 11 semifinals where they’ll face North Adams (25-0) on Wednesday, March 1 at Logan High School.

The winner of West-North Adams will face the winner of Wheelersburg-Union Local in the Region 11 Final on Friday.

Tip-off between the Lady Senators and Lady Green Devils is set for 8 p.m.

“Take care of the basketball on offense, make shots and make free throws. Play defense, make it tough on defense. Rebound the basketball,” Howell said, of his team’s sustained recipe for success. Hopefully we can keep this train on the tracks.”



Portsmouth 17 8 11 11 — 47

Portsmouth West 9 9 18 15 — 51

Portsmouth (19-6): Emily Cheatham 0 0-0 0, Sienna Allen 7 7-8 22, Daysha Reid 5 0-2 13, KK Mays 1 0-0 2, Katie Ankrom 0 0-0 0, Savannah Cantrell 3 0-1 10; TOTALS: 16 8-12 47; Three-point field goals: 7 (Daysha Reid, Savannah Cantrell 3 apiece, Sienna Allen 1)

Portsmouth West (24-1): Maelynn Howell 3 1-2 7, Sydney McDermott 5 0-0 10, Kate Rollins 1 1-5 3, Emma Sayre 3 4-9 11, Lexi Deaver 5 3-4 17, Charlie Jo Howard 1 0-0 3; TOTALS: 18 9-20 51; Three-point field goals: 6 (Lexi Deaver 4, Emma Sayre, Charlie Jo Howard 1 apiece)

Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved