WAVERLY — The Portsmouth Trojans live to play another day.
With its 54-49 win over Western at Waverly’s Downtown Arena, Portsmouth earns the right to play and advance in this year’s Division III postseason tournament by fighting off the Indians’ late-charging run in Monday’s sectional semifinal.
“Defensively, our pressure got us back into the game after a slow start; turned up the pressure to get the game going in our favor,” Portsmouth coach Eugene Collins said, following the five-point win. “When we had the chance to knock them out, we didn’t. Let them hang around with some quick shots and some turnovers, and it was a dogfight from there on out.”
After starting Monday’s semifinal trailing the Indians 7-0 at the 6:35 mark of the first, Portsmouth indeed cranked its defensive pressure, limitting Western to just eight points over the final 14 minutes and 35 seconds of the first half.
Junior Miles Shipp scored a game-high 20 points as the Trojans used a 29-8 run over the remainder of the half to take a 14-point lead into the halftime.
Shipp’s mid-range game was more than lethal in their five-point win, but it was the junior’s effort of the offensive glass which sealed the Indians’ fate late.
As Western tightened the score to two possessions in winning the second half 34-25, Shipp scored each of his four fourth-quarter points on offensive put-backs — following a Portsmouth missed free throw to give the Trojans leads of 45-37 and 49-41 minutes later.
“His (Shipp) put-backs were big, that was the difference in the game,” Collins said. “If we don’t get those put-backs it might have been a different story. When the momentum was swinging in their direction, he was able to get those stick backs which really helped.”
Donavon Carr scored nine on three field goals while shooting four-for-six from the foul line, Matthew Fraulini managed eight, and Dariyonne Bryant scored seven with five coming during the first half as the Trojans captured and expanded their lead.
Sheldon Richardson scored 15 to lead the Indians — 12 coming during the second half.
With its sectional semifinal win over Western, Portsmouth — the No. 14 seed — advances to Saturday’s Division III sectional final versus No. 3 seed Eastern Brown (21-1).
The Warriors, champions of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, suffered just one loss during the regular season — a 57-43 defeat at the hands of Alexander during the 2020 Beasts of the Southeast Invitational.
Defeating the No. 3-seeded Warriors: an improbable feat? Somewhat.
Impossible? Absolutely not.
Portsmouth indeed enters Saturday’s sectional final the likely underdog as it seeks its first sectional title since 2017.
However, a win over the Warriors would make the second straight season a lower-seeded Scioto County team has defeated Eastern Brown in the sectional final after Valley’s 45-42 upset win a year ago.
For his team to get back to the district tournament at ‘The Convo’ in Athens for the first time in three years, Collins is instilling in his team to embrace the same underdog role that proved oh-so successful for their county-foe last season.
“We’ve got a big task ahead of us and we know it,” Collins said, looking ahead to Saturday’s sectional final. “They’ve got five guys who can score, just one loss on the year which I happened to be at at the Beast of the Southeast. They’re a very good opponent and our kids have to embrace the underdog role. We know we’re coming in as an underdog and that’s what makes it fun — there’s a lot of pressure on them to get out and win the game. We’re going to go back and put together a gameplan, hopefully we can come back and cut down some nets on Saturday.”
Portsmouth and Eastern Brown will tip off on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Waverly’s Downtown Arena with a trip to ‘The Convo’ on the line.
Western 12 3 18 16 — 49
Portsmouth 16 13 13 12 — 54
WESTERN 49 (10-13)
Reed Brewster 1 0-0 3, Coleman Gibson 0 0-0 0, Kolten Miller 3 3-3 9, Maveric Ferneau 3 0-0 8, Sheldon Richardson 5 3-7 15, Austin Beckett 0 0-0 0, Noah Whitt 1 4-4 6, Broc Jordan 4 0-0 8; Dylan Theobald 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 17 10-14 49; Three-point field goals: 5 (Sheldon Richardson and Maveric Ferneau 2 apiece, Reed Brewster 1)
PORTSMOUTH 54 (10-12)
Amare Johnson 0 1-2 1, Matthew Fraulini 2 3-4 8, Dariyonne Bryant 3 0-0 7, Drew Roe 1 2-6 4, Jesse Dixon 0 0-0 0, Miles Shipp 10 0-0 20, Chris Duff 1 0-0 3, Jaylind Thomas 1 0-0 2, Donavon Carr 3 4-6 9; TOTALS: 21 9-18 54; Three-point field goals: 3 (Matthew Fraulini, Chris Duff and Dariyonne Bryant 1 apiece)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved