IRONTON – Friday’s road trip to Ironton was a roller-coaster of a game for the Portsmouth Trojans – one in which they weren’t on the winning side of as the final buzzer sounded.
As time ticked away, the Fighting Tigers had erased a 10-point early fourth quarter as they now led Portsmouth 62-61 after Reid Carrico’s go-ahead bucket with 24 seconds to play transitioned into what would be the game’s final points.
The Trojans would get the ball with a chance to win, but Ironton’s Collin Freeman dove and knocked the ball away from Portsmouth’s Amare Johnson as time expired, giving the Fighting Tigers the narrowest of one-point wins.
With the win, Ironton improved to 4-4 (4-2 OVC) while the Trojans fall to 5-7 (2-4 OVC).
“We’ve got to learn how to close a game out,” Portsmouth coach Eugene Collins said following the loss. “Like I told our guys, the obvious thing you remember is the last play, but what we should focus on is that we were up 10 and had them on the ropes late in the game and weren’t able to finish it out.”
While Portsmouth was the team to surrender their large lead late, it was Ironton who did so in the first half.
The Fighting Tigers led Portsmouth 24-14 in the early second quarter after having a six-point advantage after one quarter of play (20-14).
From there, the Trojans would catch fire in one of their best shooting performances this season. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back (Yes, four backs) Portsmouth threes would erase Ironton’s double-digit lead with 3:18 left to go in the half.
Two of the four threes during that stretch came from Portsmouth junior Miles Shipp while sophomore Donavon Carr splashed the other two makes.
Chris Duff’s three to end the half gave the Trojans a three-point lead over Ironton at 35-32 as Portsmouth finished the first half on a 21-8 run.
At halftime, Shipp had a game-high 16 points while Carr scored eight of his team’s first half points.
“Our guys capitalized on the fact that they were face guarding Matt (Fraulini)and taking things away from him,” Collins said. “Donavon (Carr) did a great job of driving to the basket and hitting open shots, giving Miles some open looks. Got to give him credit because he doesn’t typically shoot threes, but he stepped up and knocked them in tonight.”
Shipp’s three-point barrage would carry into the third quarter when the junior forward would connect on three-threes to give him a season-high 27 points by game’s end as the Trojans held onto a 49-43 lead after three quarters.
Back-to-back buckets from Carr and Shipp respectively gave Portsmouth a 53-43 lead with seven minutes to play in the game.
Ironton’s Trent Milleson became the fourth quarter hero in the Fighting Tigers’ one-point win as he scored 11 of his team’s 19 fourth quarter points, nine coming off made-threes. Carrico scored six of the Fighting Tigers’ 19 points including the go-ahead bucket to give Ironton the win.
Portsmouth is back in action on Tuesday as they will host Coal Grove in Ohio Valley Conference play.
“We’ve felt like we are getting better and are turning a corner,” Collins said. “Obviously we would have felt really good if we were able to get this one tonight, get us back to .500. Now we’ve got to turn the page and get ready for Coal Grove on Tuesday. We feel like we’re getting better, we just have to keep working and figure out how to close games out.”
Portsmouth 14 21 14 12 – 61
Ironton 20 12 11 19 – 62
Portsmouth 61 (5-7, 2-4 OVC)
Amare Johnson 1 0-0 2, Matthew Fraulini 2 2-2 7, Dariyonne Bryant 1 0-0 2, Drew Roe 4 0-1 8, Jesse Dixon 0 0-0 0, Michael Duncan 10 2-2 27, Chris Duff 1 0-0 3, Donavon Carr 5 0-0 12; TOTALS: 24 4-5 61; Three-point field goals: 9 (Shipp 5, Carr 2, Duff and Fraulini 1 apiece)
Ironton 62 (4-4, 4-2 OVC)
Gage Salyers 3 1-3 8, Trent Hacker 0 0-1 0, Jordan Grizzle 7 0-0 17, Reid Carrico 6 4-4 16, Collin Freeman 2 2-2 6, Trent Milleson 6 0-0 15, Caleb Hopper 0 0-0 0, Landen Wilson 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 24 7-10 62; Three-point field goals: 7 (Milleson and Grizzle 3 apiece, Gage Salyers 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved