Trojans triple (OT) the fun


Portsmouth senior DeAndre Berry (34) puts up a shot over Ironton senior Bailey Thacker (5) as Portsmouth senior Noah Livingston (23) looks on during Tuesday night’s boys basketball game.

Courtesy of Joann Waugh

PORTSMOUTH –DeAndre Berry came up with the loose ball with 20.3 seconds left in triple overtime, and nailed four free throws down the stretch, to seal the 92-85 win over Ohio Valley Conference rival Ironton on Tuesday night in Trojan Arena.

The win put the Trojans at 13-5 and 8-3 in the OVC, while Ironton fell to 11-7 — and 7-4 in the conference.

“We really wanted to come out here and prove a point and show everyone in the OVC that we are doing great things,” Berry said after the win. “Beating Ironton in overtime feels really good right now.”

Triple overtime to be exact, as after 10 consecutive defeats to the Fighting Tigers, Portsmouth swept the 2024 season series.

Berry finished the game with 38 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocked shots.

“We rely on him for a lot,” Portsmouth head coach Jeff Lisath said. “He sees the floor well and makes the right passes. I was really proud of him tonight.”

Berry now has 1,125 points for his career, and it’s the sixth time he has scored at least 30 points — which ties a PHS record with Kyre Allison and Damond Mannon.

He is 131 points behind his coach, Lisath (1,256), for sixth-place on the all-time PHS scoring list.

“Great game and great gameplans by both teams,” Lisath added. “Both teams played extremely hard and got after it. I kept saying that once we got into overtime, that we have to tough it out and just play tough on both ends of the floor.”

The Trojans battled back in the fourth quarter, and took a 64-63 lead — when Malachi Loper drained a three-pointer off a zip pass from Berry, with 3:24 left on the clock.

Loper finished the game with four three-pointers for 12 points in the win.

Portsmouth junior Malachi Loper (11) lays in a basket over Ironton’s Markel Cotton (14) during Tuesday night’s Ohio Valley Conference boys basketball game at Portsmouth High School’s Trojan Arena.

Courtesy of Joann Waugh

With 1:08 to play in regulation, and with the Trojans trailing Ironton 68-66, Lisath called timeout.

The designed play had Noah Livingston feed Berry underneath to tie the game — and send it into the first overtime.

“I wanted the ball because that’s just my style of play,” Berry added. “I know I can make the shots in the clutch.”

The Trojans took a 73-70 lead in the first extra period — when Berry fired a bullet pass to Isaiah Lewis, who swished a three-pointer.

Lewis, a senior point-guard, connected on five-of-five three-pointers — and finished with 19 points on the night.

“Shooters shoot,” Lewis said after the win. “We played three overtimes, and it was a long game and says a lot about our conditioning and practice.”

Lisath said Lewis came through with crucial shots at crucial times.

“He’s been getting better every game as the season progressed,” the coach said of his point guard. “He works really hard and has been working on his jump shot and it paid great dividends tonight, and I told him that.”

Ironton battled back and sent the game into the second OT — when Braden Schreck nailed a baseline jumper with 2.2 seconds left on the clock.

The 6-2 junior finished with a team-high 29 points for the Fighting Tigers.

In the second overtime, Berry made three of four free throws, while Donnovan Breech and Livingston each made one foul shot —tying the score at 81-81.

Portsmouth senior Donnovan Breech (3) puts up a shot over Ironton senior Bailey Thacker (5) during Tuesday night’s Ohio Valley Conference boys basketball game at Portsmouth High School’s Trojan Arena.

Courtesy of Joann Waugh

Breech finished the game with 13 points, while Livingston scored 10 points and pulled down 17 rebounds — and had four steals and three blocked shots.

“We played together and took every 50-50 ball,” Livingston, a 6-3 senior said. “We knew we had to play together. Coach pumped us up and we played hard and for each other. We got it done. I feel like I played great, but I know I can do better. Everyone played their hearts out and it feels good to beat Ironton twice and that’s all I got to say about that cross-town rivalry.”

Loper canned a three-pointer, and Breech scored an easy bucket off an inbounds pass from Berry — and the Trojans claimed an 86-83 lead in the third overtime.

Livingston added to the score when he drained a foul shot, as that set the stage for Berry’s theft and game-clinching free throws.

“(Livingston) does the intangibles,” Lisath said. “He’s the guy who wants to play defense and the guy who wants to rebound and he’s the guy who wants to get everyone fired up. He does great work for us, and I’m not surprised by his performance.”

Berry noted that Livingston’s inspired play motivated him down the stretch.

“The way he plays every game, and his style pushes us to play hard,” he said about Livingston. “He energized us and rebounds really big for us.”

The Trojans jumped out to a 23-17 first-quarter lead, thanks in part to two no-look passes from Berry to Breech and to Livingston — and a finger roll for a bucket and the foul for the three-point play.

Judah Barnes canned a three-pointer for Ironton at the end of the quarter.

Portsmouth then went cold from the field, and the Fighting Tigers outscored the Trojans 22-5 in the second quarter — taking a 39-28 lead into the break.

“At halftime I said, ‘there we go with the Jekyll and Hyde stuff’, and we just can’t do that against good teams,” Lisath said. “In the tournament, that kind of play will get you beat. We see-sawed a bit in the third and got back into the game in the fourth quarter.”

Shaun Terry and Bailey Thacker each scored 18 points for Ironton, while Barnes knocked down 14 points in the loss.

At 13-5, Portsmouth needs two more wins to match the regular-season records of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 teams — which all went 15-7.

The Trojans had a chance to do just that this weekend —with an OVC contest at South Point on Friday night, followed by an OVC home makeup matchup against Fairland on Saturday night.

Entering Friday night’s league slate, South Point (9-2 OVC) paced five teams all in OVC championship contention —followed by Chesapeake (9-3 OVC) and Portsmouth (8-3 OVC), and Ironton (7-4 OVC) and Fairland (7-4 OVC).

* * *

Ironton 17 22 15 14 8 5 4 —85

Portsmouth 23 5 22 18 8 5 11 —92

IRONTON 85 (11-7, 7-4 OVC)

Shaun Terry 7 3-4 18, Bailey Thacker 7 2-4 18, Judah Barnes 5 0-0 14, Braden Schreck 13 2-2 29, Ashton Layne 3 0-0 6, TOTALS 35 7-10 85; Three-point goals: 8 (Judah Barnes 4, Bailey Thacker 2, Shaun Terry and Braden Schreck 1 apiece)

PORTSMOUTH 92 (13-5, 8-3 OVC)

Isaiah Lewis 5 4-6 19, Donnovan Breech 6 1-2 13, Malachi Loper 4 0-2 12, Noah Livingston 3 4-7 10, DeAndre Berry 10 14-17 38; TOTALS 28 23-35 93; Three-point goals: 13 (Isaiah Lewis 5, Malachi Loper and DeAndre Berry 4 apiece)

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