WAVERLY — For quite some time, and maybe even still, Portsmouth had Adena on its heels Friday night in a Division III sectional final at Waverly’s Downtown Arena.
The No. 8 seeded Trojans gave the top-seeded Warriors everything they wanted … and then some … by starting fast, playing tight defense and embracing the underdog role.
An underdog that’s playing emotionally and knocking down its shots can be extremely dangerous. But unfortunately for the Trojans, Friday wasn’t the night they’d play Cinderella’s role.
In the end, Adena adjusted accordingly and overcame a double-digit deficit to pull out a 57-54 win. But that certainly didn’t come before the Trojans poured everything they had into an upset bid.
But when Adena (17-6) needed to hit its shots, that’s exactly what the Warriors did. Combined with Portsmouth (8-16) committing untimely turnovers, it didn’t produce good news.
“I thought with four minutes to go, we were up six or eight, and we had some costly turnovers,” Collins said. “They got in their press, the momentum swung and we just kept making bad decisions. And [Adena] made some big shots. They just kept hitting big shots.”
Late in the game, Portsmouth saw starters Miles Shipp and Danny Lattimore foul out. The two combined for 29 points but, more importantly, disrupted Adena’s offense while they were in.
With the duo sitting on the bench, Portsmouth was forced to change the way it played.
“The trouble we had, we got in foul trouble late,” Collins said. “So we went zone and that hurt us. We gave them some looks.”
Tale of the tape
Shipp put the Trojans on the board first before Adena’s Logan Bennett, who was extremely active early, tied the score with 6:52 left in the first quarter. When Lattimore gave Portsmouth a 5-4 edge at the 4:30 mark, the Trojans didn’t trail again until the fourth.
After taking a 15-9 lead into the second, a 30-22 lead into halftime, and a 42-36 advantage into the final eight minutes, the Warriors’ offense woke up in the fourth.
Portsmouth’s Matthew Fraulini hit a 3 with 3:39 remaining, putting the Trojans in front at 49-44. But Bennett and and Preston Sykes simply couldn’t miss. Bennett cut the lead to 49-47 with a 3-ball at the 3:02 mark before Sykes cut the lead to one, at 51-50, with 2:22 to go.
On the other end, Fraulini hit two free throws to put the Trojans back in front at 53-50, but Sykes drilled another deep ball with 1:15 remaining to tie the score. After forcing a turnover, Adena’s Zach Fout hit two free throws with 59.4 seconds left, giving the Warriors their first lead since the 4:49 mark in the first quarter.
Over the final minute stretch, Adena hit two additional free throws to make it 57-54 before Portsmouth’s last minute 3-point attempt clanked off the rim.
For Portsmouth, Shipp ended the night with 15 points and five boards, Lattimore had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Fraulini led all scorers with 20 points.
Sykes had a team-high 18 points alongside five assists while Bennett added 16 points and six rebounds. Fout ended with 15 points and six rebounds, and Jacob Shipley had six points.
What’s on tap
The Trojans must say goodbye to a talented senior class, including the likes of Lattimore and starter Myquel McKinley.
“Those seniors mean a huge amount to our program,” Collins said. “We lost 10 straight games in January. Things were going south and those guys stuck with us and stuck with the program. They believed we could get to this game. Without those guys’ attitudes, although we were losing at one point, we don’t get to where we are.”
Having said that, the Trojans’ future is anything but dim.
“We’ve got a bunch of young kids who have a lot of time in,” Collins said. “They have to get in the gym, work to get stronger and get better … I like what we have coming back.”
Portsmouth: 15-15-12-12 — 54
Adena: 9-13-14-19 — 57
Portsmouth: 18-32 FG, 12-17 FT, 6-9 3pt. (Fraulini 4), 20 rebounds (McKinley 7), 16 turnovers, 7 assists (Lattimore 7). Scoring: Fraulini 20, Shipp 15, Lattimore 14, McKinley 2, Johnson 2, Puff 1.
Adena: 18-47 FG, 12-22 FT, 9-24 3pt. (Bennett 3, Sykes 3), 27 rebounds (Bennett 6, Foglesong 6, Fout 6), 11 turnovers, 12 assists (Sykes 5). Scoring: Sykes 18, Bennett 16, Fout 15, Shipley 6, Foglesong 2.