MOWRYSTOWN — Unselfishness may be Amy Hughes’ favorite word.
Portsmouth’s head coach stresses the word — and the philosophy in general — to her girls on a daily basis. And, while she may sometimes sound like a broken record, it’s starting to pay off.
In a non-conference contest Saturday afternoon, on the road, the Trojans practiced what Hughes has been preaching in a 50-13 shellacking of Whiteoak; a win where Portsmouth dished out 16 assists as a team and committed just nine turnovers.
“There were open shots we could’ve taken but we made the extra pass,” Hughes said. “That shows what kind of character the girls have. So the unselfishness, stressing the extra pass and finding a teammate that’s open … that’s definitely something we’ve been working on. We’re proud of them for that.”
On the opposite end of that spectrum was a defense that limited Whiteoak (0-7) to just 4-of-36 shooting while causing 25 turnovers. The Wildcats scored two points in the first quarter and failed to score at all in the third.
“Defensively, we didn’t stop playing hard,” Hughes said. “We didn’t stop getting off the backside, we didn’t stop rebounding, we didn’t stop diving on the floor. We made a couple of mistakes but it wasn’t because of lack of effort at all.”
Better than the record shows
Saturday’s win was just Portsmouth’s second of the year — the first came in a 42-38 decision over Ironton on Nov. 26. But it’s hard to not see the progression in Hughes’ program.
Junior Hannah Hughes is a threat from anywhere to score, senior point guard Jasmine Eley distributes the ball well and freshman Nia Trinidad is off to a hot start … remember that name.
“From the beginning, we had a lot of games on the road,” Hughes said. “So we knew we were going to start off on a tough stretch, going on the road that many times. I think eight of our first nine are away, and that’s tough. But we’ve come a long way and we’ve made a lot of improvements.”
In the victory over Whiteoak, Eley routinely found open teammates, made smart decisions and shot the ball effectively. If she continues to play in that manner, more wins are sure to come.
“She’s a true point guard,” Hughes said. “She gets her teammates open and that’s what makes a team go. You have to be able to create for the other person and Jasmine’s made a lot of improvements in that area.”
Tale of the tape
Portsmouth, which was in total control throughout all 32 minutes, got on the board first when Hannah Hughes scored at the 5:45 mark in the first quarter. That spearheaded an 11-0 run to kick things off before Whiteoak finally got a bucket to go at the 1:51 mark.
The Wildcats did hit two 3-point field goals in the second but that was much too little to keep up with Hughes and Eley’s scoring efforts.
“I think we moved the ball really well and we were making our shots,” Hannah Hughes said. “If we move the ball around, we get more open shots. Hopefully, that leads to wins. I usually look to pass first but my team keeps me up and, sometimes, my shots fall.”
Eley echoed those sentiments.
“I think we had a lot of confidence and we were unselfish,” Eley said. “Going forward, I think this will definitely make us a better team. We need to get more shots up and just come together. It’s better to play 5-on-5 than it is to play 1-on-5.”
Hughes finished with a game-high 10 rebounds alongside her 16 points while Eley added 13 points, five boards and six assists. Trinidad was also a factor, ending with 11 points, six rebounds and two dimes while Aireyana Thurman scored six, and Jaiden Rickett grabbed eight rebounds.
What’s on tap
Portsmouth gets back to action Thursday, hosting Manchester.
“We never stop working on our shooting, never stop working on our rebounds,” Hughes said. “That’s what we’ll continue to work on.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL FINAL: Portsmouth 50, Whiteoak 13.@han_hughes1515 (P): 16 points, 10 rebounds
J. Eley (P): 13 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
N. Trinidad (P): 11 points, 6 rebounds#PDTsports pic.twitter.com/akbTdAW5Kl
— Derrick Webb (@dw1509) December 15, 2018
Portsmouth: 16-12-17-5 — 50
Whiteoak: 2-6-0-5 — 13
Portsmouth: 20-55 FG, 4-8 FT, 6-25 3pt., 35 rebounds (Hughes 10), 9 turnovers, 16 assists (Eley 6). Scoring: Hughes 16, Eley 13, Trinidad 11, Thurman 6, Rickett 2, Richardson 1.
Whiteoak: 4-36 FG, 3-4 FT, 2-8 3pt., 18 rebounds (Bratton 7), 25 turnovers, 3 assists (Carr 3). Scoring: Bratton 7, Jones 3, Thompson 3.