PORTSMOUTH — If you’re a Portsmouth Trojans’ boys basketball fan, blame it on being Friday the 13th.
If you’re a Chesapeake Panthers’ supporter, conversely, this night needed not a lot of luck.
On a Friday night of when it indeed rains it pours, the visiting Panthers scored the game’s first 11 points and 20 of the opening 23 — and outscored the Trojans 50-20 in the second half en route to surprisingly pummeling Portsmouth 80-37 in an Ohio Valley Conference affair inside Portsmouth High School’s Trojan Arena.
Chesapeake hit 80, while the Trojans never reached 40.
With the win, Chesapeake remained undefeated at 3-0 — and 2-0 in the OVC.
It was also the second time that the Panthers have traveled to Scioto County within the past 10 days — and amassed at least 80 points.
They also scored 76 on Tuesday in their OVC opener against Rock Hill, but getting 80 on Friday including 50 in the second half had to be head-turning — and even eye-popping — to some.
Four Panthers posted double figures — as Ethan Taylor tallied a game-high 20 on eight total field goals and a free throw.
Travis Grim garnered 14 on six total field goals, Levi Blankenship boasted 13 on four field goals and 2-of-3 free throws, and Austin Jackson chipped in a dozen on five field goals and a split of second-quarter foul shots.
The foursome combined for the seven Panther three-pointers, as Chesapeake torched the Trojans’ transition game and full-court press for layups and easy baskets all night.
While veteran Chesapeake coach Ryan Davis said his squad has started the season strong defensively, they hadn’t — until Friday — turned turnovers into transition buckets.
Taylor, Grim and Josh Cox collected seven rebounds apiece, as Jackson grabbed five — all in the second quarter.
“Against Valley, we forced 20 first-half turnovers, but didn’t turn them into baskets. Tonight, eventually, we did that. We finally started containing some people, contesting shots and making shots tough. Then rebounding the ball and getting out,” said Davis. “We can run, and we’re tough. Pushing the tempo for us is not an issue.”
Indeed, Chesapeake’s defense did the job early on, as the Trojans turned the ball over 13 times in the first half — and more importantly missed their first 14 shot attempts.
Chesapeake scored 13 of the 14 total first-period points, with the Trojans finally getting on the board with 24 seconds remaining — on a Matthew Fraulini free throw.
After Taylor tallied his three-pointer for a 19-1 Panther bulge with only a minute and 20 seconds gone by in the second, Dariyonne Bryant bucketed two foul shots — before Taylor tacked on two deuces to make it 23-3 with 4:55 remaining before halftime.
Taylor — the six-foot, four-inch sophomore — had 15 of his 20 before halftime and 11 in the second quarter, spelling Cox on the inside as he got into early foul trouble.
He also blocked three shots.
“We had a lot of great minutes out of Ethan Taylor,” said Davis.
Finally, on their 15th shot attempt, the Trojans scored their first field goal after 11 minutes and 55 seconds of game time — a three-pointer by Jessie Dixon.
Truth be told, the Trojans weren’t seeing any black cats, just purple Panthers putting it on them.
Portsmouth shot just 4-of-22 in the first half, part of 11-of-55 for 20-percent for the entire tilt with 24 turnovers.
Many of those missed shots were from close range — either layups in the lane or rebound putbacks.
“It just unraveled on us early on. We started the game with getting several stops defensively, but we just missed several shots right from point-blank range. Then they got going and once they got going, we just kept missing. If we weren’t missing, we were turning it over. It just turned into an onslaught of 23-3 at one point,” said 12-year Portsmouth head coach Gene Collins.
But over the final four-and-a-half minutes of the second stanza, the Trojans actually doubled up the Panthers 14-7 to trail by 13 four times (24-11, 26-13, 28-15 and 30-17) — including 30-17 at halftime.
Drew Roe, who paced Portsmouth with four field goals towards 11 points, rattled in his first of two triples to make it 24-11 — as the Trojans shot 7-of-15 from the free-throw line in the opening half, including 4-of-4 by Bryant and one apiece by Roe and Miles Shipp.
Amare Johnson scored a pair of second-quarter baskets, then his final field goal just 40 seconds into the third quarter got the Trojans to within 11.
But for the final 6:55 of the third, Chesapeake put up 26 points compared to the Trojans’ 10 — as the Panthers tripled the Trojans’ total in the fourth for a 24-8 count.
The 80-37 final, in fact, was the largest margin of the game.
The Panthers held a 33-11 advantage in total field goals, and shot 33-of-64 from the field for 51.5-percent — thanks in large part to layups in breaking the Trojans’ transition defense.
Trent Dearth scored eight points — on four third-quarter field goals.
They sank 7-of-16 threes, including 5-of-10 in the second half — with three by Blankenship and two by Grim.
“We actually didn’t handle the press the way I wanted us to, but we didn’t turn the ball over against it,” said Davis. “In the second half, we stopped pushing the ball into bad spots and turning it over and taking bad shots. We settled down and got ourselves good shots when we did run.”
Collins said the Panthers picked up in the second half where they left off in the first.
“We got it down to 11 (30-19), but they score in waves and we continued to miss easy shots,” he said. “That floodgate opened, it got away from us and we were never able to recover. We knew transition was going to be an issue. The frustrating thing was that we thought we had a sound gameplan to stop their transition by getting back. We just didn’t get back. But when you’re turning it over that much, it’s hard to get back. Now they have the court open, and they are very good in transition. It’s a lesson learned for our young group.”
Both clubs are young, as the nine-man Panthers sport just Jackson and Cox as seniors, while Portsmouth’s sole senior in the regular rotation is Fraulini.
The Trojans start three sophomores including Bryant, who went 6-of-6 at the stripe as part of eight points, while fellow sophomores Johnson and Dixon scored six apiece — including 3-of-6 foul shots by Dixon.
It was also the Trojans’ third game in four days — all of which were losses but at least the first two were decided by seven points or less (82-75 loss at South Point on Tuesday and 71-66 loss against Huntington St. Joseph on Wednesday).
Portsmouth, which opened the season on Dec. 6 with a non-league triumph over Piketon, fell to 1-3 — and 0-2 in the OVC.
Friday the 13th, unfortunately for the Trojans, felt like such.
“We’re still playing catch-up and the schedule hasn’t been in our favor so far, but it’s not the end of the world,” said Collins. “Right now, we’re trying to restore some confidence in our kids. I’m more worried right now about our mental than our physical. We just have to continue to work with these young guys. We’re going to be okay. No matter what our record is or what it’s going to be, our goal is to get better.”
The Panthers’ record remains perfect — but they still aim to be better as well.
“We’ll take 3-0 through three games. Three years ago, we won just four all year. I’m learning to be appreciative of wins. And I am appreciative of these guys,” said Davis. “Nobody knows the type of guys that we have on the team. They are coachable and driven and they’ve got stuff to prove.”
* * *
Chesapeake 13 17 26 24 — 80
Portsmouth 1 16 12 8— 37
CHESAPEAKE 80 (3-0, 2-0 OVC)
Travis Grim 6 0-0 14, Nathan Cox 2 1-1 5, Levi Blankenship 4 2-3 13, Dilen Caldwell 1 2-2 4, Austin Jackson 5 1-2 12, Trent Dearth 4 0-0 8, Josh Cox 2 0-0 4, Ethan Taylor 9 1-1 20, Jacob Lemley 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 33 7-9 80; Three-point goals: 7 (Levi Blankenship 3, Travis Grim 2, Austin Jackson and Ethan Taylor 1 apiece)
PORTSMOUTH 37 (1-3, 0-2 OVC)
Amare Johnson 3 0-0 6, Matthew Fraulini 1 1-2 3, Dariyonne Bryant 1 6-6 8, Jack Workman 0 0-0 0, Drew Roe 4 1-2 11, Daewin Spence 0 0-0 0, Jessie Dixon 1 3-6 6, Michael Duncan 0 0-0 0, Miles Shipp 0 1-4 1, Chris Duff 0 0-0 0, Jaylind Thomas 1 0-0 2, Trevor Pope 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 11 12-20 37; Three-point goals: 3 (Drew Roe 2, Jesse Dixon 1)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved