Source: Ben Spicer - Daily TimesPortsmouth HC Gene Collins had some interesting thoughts when it came to his team’s communication.
The Portsmouth Trojans tipped off the first day of the Buckeye Elite National Showcase on Thursday night with a big win over Huntington St. Joseph, 79-48.
Matthew Fraulini had a game-high 20 points, knocking down four three-pointers to lead the way offensively for Portsmouth.
Complimenting Fraulini was DJ Eley, who had 13 points. Eley also showed off some range, draining three three-pointers of his own.
“We expect them to shoot it in, those two are really good shooters,” Portsmouth head coach Gene Collins said. “When we can get out in transition, those guys can get good looks and they’re going to knock them in.”
The Trojans were able to create a lot of offensive opportunities with a tight defense that didn’t allow the Irish many good looks, which was something their coach was worried about when scouting St. Joseph’s.
“Defense is critical, we’ve got to make sure that we guard,” Collins said. “When I watched them I was really concerned because they had three guards that could shoot it and can also put it on the floor.”
In the first quarter, Portsmouth rode the shooting ability of Fraulini right off the bat.
The sophomore sank a floater on the second possession of the night for the Trojans, who would never trail in the contest.
Fraulini had nine points in the first, and Portsmouth led after one 15-4.
Based off stats alone, you can see that the Trojans played terrific defense. The numbers don’t exactly do the performance justice, though.
Relying on their speed and athleticism, Portsmouth pestered the Irish constantly and forced them to take ill-advised shots.
“We started out defensively really guarding the ball, keeping them out of the paint,” Collins said. “We closed out on their shooters, and we really rebounded.”
Forcing misses on the defensive end and rebounding the ball also took St. Joseph’s away from their strategy on the floor.
“The fact that we were guarding and they were missing kept them out of their press, and when they did press we were ready,” Collins said.
It was Eley who had the hot hand in the second frame of the action, scoring 11 points for the Trojans.
Isaac Kelly also found his groove in the quarter, scoring five points. Kelly was the only other Portsmouth player to finish with double digits in scoring, totaling 12.
Kelly used his strength and quick first step to attack the lane and get to the basket for tough finishes.
The Trojans had a 39-12 lead at the break, demonstrating their defensive prowess in the half.
In the third, Portsmouth allowed more points than they had in the previous two quarters.
Daniel Jordan slowed down a quick 5-0 run from the opposition with a basket, and then scored again on the next possession for the Trojans early.
Jordan finished with six points, as did Reese Johnson and Gabe Gambill.
After the Jordan score, Fraulini would drop two three-pointers to add to the Portsmouth lead. The second three from the sophomore gave the Trojans a 49-19 lead with 4:22 to play in the period.
It wasn’t just Portsmouth who was scoring in the third though, as the Irish got contributions from five different players during that span.
Bronson Barker had 10 points overall for St. Joseph’s, and Garrick Hopkins followed up with nine of his own for the Irish.
Still, St. Joseph’s was trailing 62-25 at the end of the third quarter.
With a large lead late, Collins opted to utilize his bench players in the remainder of the match.
To the credit of the Irish, they never gave up despite trailing. St. Joseph’s went right at the Trojans and took them on in the final quarter.
The Irish actually outscored Portsmouth 23-17 in the fourth, but the Trojans still coasted to triumph with a 79-48 victory.
Danny Lattimore scored all eight of his points in the quarter, and several other Portsmouth players got their name in the score column.
Andrew Meadows scored to make the margin 73-35. Down the stretch, Colin Boehm hit two free throws to put the Trojans up 75-43.
Late in the game, Anthony Ferrara was the last score for Portsmouth with a lay-in to conclude the night.
“It was great to get guys in,” Collins said. “Some guys got their first varsity minutes tonight, and it was great to see them get in and contribute.”
11 different players scored for the Trojans against St. Joseph’s, compared to just eight in the first game against Jones Academy.
The first two games of the season have gone well for the Trojans, who have taken each by at least 31 points. Better yet, Collins said he’s noticed improvement from the opening outing.
“From the first game to the second I’ve seen a lot of growth and maturity,” Collins said. “The one thing I was worried about in preseason was sometimes we don’t have a sense of urgency, and over the last week we’ve got better at that.”
Still, the coach saw some areas where Portsmouth can better moving forward.
“Our communication is still not where I would like it to be,” Collins said. “We’re in a world of Twitter and Facebook and all that, so I guess if we could use our phones we wouldn’t have to worry about communication.”
Though they might not be able to take their iPhones out on the court with them, this Trojans team has been dialed in for the first two games of the season.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 on Twitter @BSpicerPDT or at Facebook.com/ReporterBenSpicer