PORTSMOUTH – What better way to start off the new calendar year than with a home win over a conference foe?
Not only did Portsmouth (5-6, 2-4 in OVC) edge Rock Hill 49-40 on their home court, they looked rather impressive doing so in route to their second conference win of the season, and first since their first game of the year in which they picked up a road win over Ironton.
“Anytime you can get a conference win you have to be happy about that,” said Trojans head coach Amy Hughes following her team’s win Thursday night. “And the good thing about this one was just how many girls we had contributing, they all gave it their all.”
After coming out of the gate red hot thanks to senior Jasmine Eley’s 11 first quarter points, nine of which came from behind the arc, Portsmouth held a 16-10 lead over Rock Hill.
However, when the second quarter came around, Rock Hill did a good adjusting defensively and helped create turnovers which turned into transition points on the other end. At the half, despite a solid shooting first half, Portsmouth trailed Rock Hill 24-23.
Yet just as they had come out ready to play in the first eight minutes, the Trojans quickly retook their early lead, and this time would never look back. The story of that quick turnaround? Rebounding, rebounding, and maybe some more rebounding.
Jaiden Rickett and Ashanti Richardson at one point had grabbed eight straight offensive rebounds, not including the other numerous offensive rebounds the two Portsmouth bigs’ grabbed throughout the contest.
“That stretch where they grabbed eight straight offensive rebounds was huge for us,” said Hughes. “Not just because it created more opportunities to score, but also because it showed that our girls were putting up a fight against a really good rebounding team in Rock Hill. Jaiden (Rickett) played her best game of the season for us with a double-double, and Ashanti (Richardson) battled on the glass and played really good defense for us.”
“Our coaches told us at the beginning of the game that rebounding would be a big thing,” said Rickett. “I just made sure to be able to get to the glass, especially backside where I knew I could get them.”
Rickett finished with 11 points for Portsmouth, combined with Eley’s 26 helped carry the Trojans to a big home win.
“At the beginning of the game,” said Eley, “I wasn’t as focused on scoring as I was getting my teammates involved. But I took what the defense gave me, and once I started feeling good, everything really got rolling for us.”
“Jasmine played really well again for us,” said Hughes. “She’s our only senior, she’s our leader, and she showed that again tonight.”
Portsmouth improves to 5-6 on the season and 2-4 in the OVC in Hughes’ first season leading a program that has already taken leaps and bounds in just half a season.
“It’s been a big season so far,” said Rickett. “The coaching is there, we’ve come out and things have been a lot different, and it’s been a lot of fun.”
“Everyone kind of doubted us,” said Eley. “It’s not only a statement win tonight, but a statement year so far. I feel like we’re on this run and we’re not going to stop now, we’re going to show everyone what we worked for all summer.”
The Trojans will have the chance to show off their hard work once again in another home conference game against Gallia Academy on Monday to try and get their third league win of the season.
Portsmouth: 16-7-17-9 – 49
Rock Hill: 10-14-9-7 – 40
Portsmouth: 16 FGs, 7 3pts. (Eley 5), 10/20 FTs. Scoring: Eley 26, Rickett 11, Hughes 8, Trinadad, Richardson 2
Rock Hill: 16 FGs, 5 3PTs (Morris, Cade 2), ¾ FTs. Scoring: Cade 12, Scott 11, Morris 10, Olderham 3, McGraw 2, Hanshaw 2
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT