Trojans turn up tempo


Portsmouth junior Malachi Loper (11)

Courtesy of Joann Waugh

PORTSMOUTH — An up-tempo second half broke open a 20-20 halftime stalemate, and boosted the host Portsmouth Trojans to a 56-42 non-conference boys basketball win over West on Saturday night in Trojan Arena.

Donnovan Breech poured in 18 points while Malachi Loper finished with 15, and ignited a 21-10 third-quarter run for Portsmouth.

‘We needed to speed the game up and go into a press,” Portsmouth head coach Jeff Lisath said. “That started turning the momentum of the game. We got a couple of steals and quick baskets and that’s when we are at our best.”

Loper, a 5-10 junior, whipped off nine unanswered PHS points in the third period, including two steals for layups — followed by a left-handed kiss off the glass and a three-pointer to extend the lead to 33-22.

“It started off with defense,” Loper said. “We got some steals and some easy fast-break points and my shots just started falling. It all starts with defense though.”

He added it felt good to get into an offensive rhythm, and give the 12-5 Trojans a spark.

“I just wanted the ball,” he said. “If I keep making the shots, then I expect the ball until I miss.”

West (6-11) countered when Jeffery Bishop nailed a three-pointer, and then drove to the hoop for the bucket and the foul — closing the gap to 33-28.

But DeAndre Berry made a bullet pass to Breech under the basket for two and a foul, putting the lead at 38-28 with 1:57 to go in the third.

Berry finished the game with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists — that included two zip passes and two no-look passes to Breech.

Berry is now 10th on the all-time Trojan scoring list.

Portsmouth seniors DeAndre Berry (34) and Noah Livingston (23)

Courtesy of Joann Waugh

“He’s a great passer and has great vision and I tell him all the time that when you play a complete game like that, it’s going to make us better,” Lisath said about Berry’s passing. “Finding the open guy and then scoring when we need him to score and rebound when we need him to. He has great vision.”

Breech, a 6-3 senior, bombed a three-pointer to open the fourth quarter — and followed that with a layup off a steal and pass by Berry for a 46-30 lead.

West went on a 9-0 run highlighted by a three-pointer from Will Kegley, and two drives to the hole from Bishop.

But Berry came up with a steal, and fed Luke Stine on a long pass for a layup — putting the Trojans ahead 50-42 with 2:12 to play.

“It all boiled down to turnovers,” West head coach Caleb McClanahan said of the 11 Senator miscues. “Our defense played well enough to win. But turnovers and their transition where we couldn’t get our defense set. We were loose with the ball all night.”

West senior Jeffery Bishop (11)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

After Bishop (game-high 22 points) fouled out with 1:56 to go, PHS connected on six of eight free throws to close out the game.

“We knew they are a patient offense and like to play slower,” Lisath said. “Our kids hung in there and took it to the basket. We did what we needed to do to get the win.”

PHS got off to a fast first-quarter start, when Berry whizzed a pass underneath to Breech — and followed that with a finger-roll and a no-look pass to Breech again for a 6-5 lead.

Corbin Miller’s offensive rebound for two, and a Bishop drive and the foul, gave West a 10-8 advantage.

West senior Trevor Fike (35)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

But Portsmouth’s Isaiah Lewis canned a three-pointer, putting the Trojans ahead 11-10 at the end of the first.

“We talk about every game that we want to get off to a fast start,” Lisath added. “We just play better that way.”

West senior Cole Tipton (13)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

Cole Tipton gave the Senators a 16-15 lead when he nailed a three-pointer, but PHS answered and tied the game at the break — on a bucket from an offensive rebound and putback by Noah Livingston.

“We came out and picked up the tempo in the third quarter and put pressure on them and it worked out,” Lisath said.

For the first-year head coach Lisath and his Trojans, they clinched a winning season for the first time in six years —marking the 81st winning season in PHS program history.

Portsmouth senior Noah Livingston (23)

Courtesy of Joann Waugh

* * *

West 10 10 10 12 —42

Portsmouth 11 9 21 15 —56

WEST 42 (6-11)

Mason Parker 1 0-0 2, Will Kegley 1 0-2 3, Jeffrey Bishop 8 4-4 22, Cole Tipton 1 0-0 3, Cristian Quirasco 2 0-0 4, Corbin Miller 1 0-0 2, Trevor Fike 2 0-0 6; TOTALS 16 4-6 42; Three-point goals: 6 (Jeffery Bishop and Trevor Fike 2 apiece; Will Kegley and Cole Tipton 1 apiece)

PORTSMOUTH 56 (12-5)

Isaiah Lewis 1 2-2 5, Donnovan Breech 8 1-1 18, Malachi Loper 5 3-4 15, Noah Livingston 1 0-0 2, Luke Stine 1 0-0 2, DeAndre Berry 5 4-8 14; TOTALS 21 10-15 56; Three-point goals: 4 (Malachi Loper 2, Isaiah Lewis and Donnovan Breech 1 apiece)

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