PORTSMOUTH – Needing a momentum boost heading into next week’s Ohio Valley Conference schedule, the Portsmouth Trojans wanted to start their season off on the right foot.
After the Trojans football program qualified for the OHSAA’s high school football playoffs for the second straight year, the Portsmouth (1-0) boys basketball team was able to get the start they needed, opening their season with a 65-52 win over the visiting Piketon Redstreaks (2-2) in non-league play.
The Redstreaks, however, were far from opening their season.
With wins over Division IV Valley and Whiteoak, and a narrow loss to Division III West Union, Portsmouth coach Eugene Collins was happy with the way his team responded against a Piketon team who was entering their fourth game of the young season.
“I think we had grit tonight, determination,” Collins said following the win. “We were really focused in. We knew this would be a really difficult game for us with it being our first game and their fourth game. They had a size advantage, and I thought they were very good in the half court. We’re not there yet in the half court, so we had to turn the game into a track meet, something we were able to do for the most part.”
As far as experience on the court in the young season goes, the Trojans’ talent exceeded that on Friday.
Thanks to their ability to speed up the tempo in the win, Portsmouth outscored Piketon 58-39 in quarters not named the second.
Led by senior second team all-Southeast District Matthew Fraulini’s game-high 20 points (14 in second half), the Trojans combined to hit 10 threes, five coming from Fraulini’s hot-hand.
Sophomore Dariyonne Bryant scored 14 points in Friday’s win, seven in each half, while junior Chris Duff managed 12 points off-the-bench, six of which also came from behind-the-arc.
Sophomores Jesse Dixon and Drew Roe also each connected on a three to cap the Trojans’ hot-shooting night.
Portsmouth’s lone quarter of frustration came in the second when Piketon outscored the Trojans 13-7 in the period, largely because Miles Shipp, the junior forward who scored nine points and provided the Trojans with key post play, picked up his second foul with 7:08 to go in the period and was forced to sit for the duration of the half.
However, rotation pieces in Collins’ arsenal contributed big minutes over the course of the game when baskets were, and weren’t falling for the Trojans.
And luckily for Trojan fans, the former happened much more often than the latter.
“Our goal is to try and to win the first and third quarter,” Collins said. “You give yourself a great chance to win if you’re able to do that. We had to play with adversity because we had to mix and match our lineups with him (Miles) out of the game. I thought Michael Duncan was good when he was in, he gave us some key rebounds we needed. Jesse Dixon hit a big three in third that we needed. Dariyonne Bryant got limited minutes at the end of last year as a freshman, but he was recovering from a broken leg so he’s still fairly new to the varsity game. Chris Duff is also new but another one of those guys who stepped up for us tonight.”
Trailing at the half after Matthew Fraulini’s buzzer-beating three brought Portsmouth to within two at 26-24, Collins made the adjustment to pick up the tempo and let his players feed off each others’ injury.
That move paid off as Portsmouth outscored the Redstreaks 41-26 over the course of the final 16 minutes.
“I liked that we were able to score in different ways with different people,” Collins said. “Not just focusing on Matt (Fraulini); he ended up with 20 but it was a tough 20 for him. That’s the difference in this year’s team and last year’s. Last year if Matt and Miles couldn’t make shots, we struggled to score at times. Now these guys are a year older, they’re making shots, and we’re in the best physical shape of any team I’ve ever had.”
Looking ahead for Portsmouth, Collins’ squad will begin their march into OVC play with a road trip to South Point Tuesday, December 10th before a home game versus Chesapeake Friday, December 13th.
After last season’s disappointing 6-17 record with an accompanying sectional final loss and seventh-place conference finish, it’s all eyes forward for this year’s Trojans team.
“It’s a big week,” Collins said. “We had two close games with South Point last year, won at our place and lost at theirs. Chesapeake coming in Friday, tempo will not be a problem in that game. They like to get up and down the court.”
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Collins continued. “With the schedule we have, we’re going to be an underdog in every game we play until January. To come in here tonight and get a win is huge for our kids and their morale, hopefully we’ll be able to carry that into next week.”
Piketon 13 13 14 12 – 52
Portsmouth 17 7 20 21 – 65
PIKETON (2-2, 0-0 SVC)
Levi Gullion 3 0-1 6, Brody Fuller 4 0-0 10, Sawyer Pendleton 0 0-0 0, Kyden Potts 4 2-3 10, Chris Chandler 3 3-3 10, Tra Swayne 4 1-1 9, Tyree Harris 3 0-0 7; TOTALS 21 6-9 52; Three-point field goals: 4 (Fuller 2, Chandler and Harris 1 each)
PORTSMOUTH (1-0, 0-0 OVC)
Amare Johnson 1 0-0 2, Matthew Fraulini 7 1-3 20, Dariyonne Bryant 5 3-9 14, Drew Roe 1 2-2 5, Jesse Dixon 1 0-0 3, Michael Duncan 0 0-0 0, Miles Shipp 2 5-6 9, Chris Duff 4 2-3 12; TOTALS 21 13-23 65; Three-point field goals: 10 (Fraulini 5, Duff 2, Bryant, Dixon and Roe 1 each)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved