PORTSMOUTH — Unlike one week ago, when things got difficult for Portsmouth Saturday evening, the Trojans stood tall and adjusted.
Just seven days removed from a 61-45 loss to West, coach Eugene Collins’ crew took Minford’s best punch at home. But this time, they delivered a counter and, eventually a knockout, to beat the Falcons by a 62-47 final.
“We’ve had a week since West took us to the shed,” Collins said. “I challenged our guys to compete. I felt like we played hard but we didn’t compete at times during that game. It was kind of like the sky was falling. Tonight, when things got difficult, we kept fighting. We were able to dig in, get that lead and then get separation. It’s a learning process. How do you play when things aren’t going so well?”
When their team needed them most, Portsmouth’s Matthew Fraulini and Danny Lattimore stepped up to the plate. Midway through the third quarter, the duo spearheaded a 10-0 run to give the Trojans breathing room in a tight ballgame.
It was Lattimore’s run-and-gun style that helped Fraulini get open looks.
“We told Danny early on that we have to get the game going up and down,” Collins said. “Danny allows us to get the game going up and down and it’s not as easy to guard everybody when the game’s in transition. If they don’t stop him, he gets on top of the basket. That’s what we have to have.”
Minford (2-6) tried to take Fraulini away as a scoring option and, for a while, that worked.
However, the junior wing eventually figured things out and ended the game leading all scorers with 22 points … a chunk of which came down the stretch.
“I thought Matt played well tonight and he picked his spots,” Collins said. “Once our guys can be patient, throw it to the open guy and finish around the bucket a little more consistently, we’ll start to play a little better when they take Matt away.”
While Fraulini and Lattimore continued to put the ball in the bucket, teammates Miles Shipp and MyQuel McKinley kept giving them second chances to do so on the offensive glass.
McKinley finished with nine rebounds while Shipp tallied eight.
“We’ve gotten that from those two every night out,” Collins said. “Those guys really go hard on the boards, on both ends. Both of them are very active, which is great. They both have high motors. I just have to keep telling myself that Miles is just a sophomore and MyQuel is just a first-year starter. So sometimes, we have big expectations and not realize they’re still young.”
Tale of the tape
Behind two 3-point field goals and a putback early, Portsmouth (5-3) took an early 11-3 lead, one that transformed into a 16-8 edge with under three minutes to go in the first quarter. But that’s when the Falcons called upon Kelton Kelley and Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis to lead the way on a 14-4 run as they took a 22-20 advantage at the 6:15 mark in the second.
Minford would retain the lead at the break, ever so slightly, at 30-29.
Vogelsong-Lewis nailed a 3 to put Minford in front 33-29 to begin the third before Fraulini forced a 37-37 tie with 3:31 left before the fourth. That’s when the Trojans capped a 10-0 run to take a 45-37 edge, a lead that they’d never hand back to the Falcons.
Fraulini led all scorers with 22 points alongside six rebounds while Lattimore followed with 21 points of his own, plus four boards and five assists. Shipp and McKinley both ended with 12 points in addition to their 17 combined rebounds.
Kelley led the Falcons with 19 points and seven rebounds while Vogelsong-Lewis finished with 14 points. Cameron Dalton also chipped in, scoring seven points and adding eight rebounds.
What’s on tap
Minford will attempt to bounce back Wednesday, hosting Jackson, while Portsmouth tries to keep momentum going Friday, traveling to Chesapeake in Ohio Valley Conference play.
“There’s no easy games left,” Collins said. “This was a great win because it could’ve easily been a loss. But we have no ‘gimmes’ left on our schedule. So to say we’re 5-3, going into a very tough week with Chesapeake on the road and a very, very good Wheelersburg team on Saturday … we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Minford: 19-11-9-8 — 47
Portsmouth: 18-11-16-18 — 63
Minford: 18-56 FG, 2-3 FT, 9-26 3pt., 25 rebounds (Dalton 8), 16 turnovers, 11 assists (Dalton 4). Scoring: Kelley 19, Vogelsong-Lewis 14, Dalton 7, McCormick 5, Crank 5.
Portsmouth: 23-46 FG, 11-16 FT, 6-11 3pt., 31 rebounds (McKinley 9), 14 turnovers, 8 assists (Lattimore 5). Scoring: Fraulini 22, Lattimore 21, Shipp 12, McKinley 12.
Reach Derrick Webb at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @dw1509.