WAVERLY —Although it wasn’t snowing on Saturday, the Portsmouth Trojans — in the second half of their Division III sectional championship tilt — sure felt like they were avalanched upon by a snowball rolling downhill at full speed.
That’s because the Trojans, unfortunately, scored just six — yes count ‘em just six — second-half points, as the Eastern Brown Warriors reeled off 26 unanswered en route to a 56-32 rout inside Waverly’s Downtown Arena.
And, it was a far cry from the opening 16 minutes — in which the Trojans took a 26-22 halftime lead, made all four of their three-point goals, and outrebounded Eastern 14-5.
With the loss, Portsmouth — the 14th-seeded squad in the Division III super sectional, saw its season end at 10-13, as head coach Eugene Collins commented that the contest, in many ways, was a microcosm of the entire campaign.
“The things we worked so hard not to do in the first half such as open-court turnovers, live-ball turnovers that led to transition was the beginning of our demise. Then Eastern Brown, defensively in the half-court, really cranked it up and didn’t allow us any good looks,” he said. “It just snowballed. It’s disappointing, but at the same time, this is who we’ve been all year long. You hope you eventually overcome it, but unfortunately, it’s who we’ve been. A lot of games one good half and one bad half.”
The Trojans — on the road no less — took three other Ohio Valley Conference clubs which qualified for the district tournament to the wire, falling at league champion Fairland and at South Point in overtime, while losing at Ironton 62-61 in which the Trojans had possession before a game-ending turnover.
Against third-seeded Eastern Brown, whose only loss in 22 games going into Saturday was against Alexander on a neutral floor, the underdog Trojans took a lead as large as seven at 26-19 — as there were three early lead changes and four ties.
But, the second half was a completely different story.
The Warriors pitched a 21-0 third-quarter shutout, as Portsmouth missed all eight of its field-goal attempts in the period.
Eastern’s Dustin Jimison then scored the opening two points of the fourth quarter, before finally —finally —freshman Donovan Carr stopped the Trojans’ bleeding with a basket with 6:08 remaining.
By then, though, the Trojans trailed 45-26 —as Jimison’s first of two treys put the Warrior advantage at 20 points —where it at least remained for the remainder of the game.
As for Portsmouth, its only other points were another basket by Carr with 2:52 to play, and finally a rebound putback by Jesse Dixon inside the final minute.
The Trojans turned the ball over 14 times, but the Warriors were spectacular on defense in the second half.
Portsmouth missed all 15 of its three-point attempts in the final two quarters, and made just 3-of-24 over the same span — with three of those shots getting blocked.
That’s in stark contrast to the first half, in which the Trojans made 10-of-23 for 43.5-percent.
In all, Portsmouth shot just 28-percent (13-of-47), including an icy 14-percent (4-of-29) from three.
“We can’t afford to go 4-of-29 when you’re playing a team like them that can score. A lot of that percentage had to with we started pressing when we got behind, and we could not get the bleeding stopped,” said Collins. “We couldn’t make a shot and we couldn’t get a stop.”
Collins was correct, as the Warriors were 9-of-18 from the field for 50-percent in the first half — but shot a sizzling 57-percent in the second, which included 5-of-11 (45.5-percent) made three-point goals.
Eastern Brown was 21-for-39 for the entire game for 53-percent, and almost made half of its total three-point tries (7-of-16 for 44-percent).
In opening up a double-digit (36-26) lead by the 4:06 mark, the Warriors got a Luke Garrett three, a Garrett runout basket for the lead, a Trent Hundley rebound putback for an old-fashioned three-point play, a Titus Burns trifecta, and finally a Burns three-point play.
“We were afraid that open-court turnovers were going to lead to open threes and transition threes and transition layups for them,” said Collins. “That’s exactly what happened. I felt like we did a really good job in the first half, but once we started turning the ball over, the gameplan went out the door.”
Collins called two timeouts in the opening 5:20 of the third quarter, but it didn’t help —and Hundley hit a three-pointer to make it 43-26 at the 1:18 mark, where the score remained for the next two-and-a-half minutes.
The Warriors went on to double up the Trojans 13-6 in the fourth, and turned that minus-nine rebounding margin from the first half (14-5) into a plus-nine for the entire game (32-23).
Colton Vaughn blocked three shots and grabbed 10 rebounds, despite not scoring a single point.
Five Warriors scored with three in double figures, as the six-foot four-inch Hundley — on six total field goals and 3-of-3 free throws —had 16 points to lead the way.
He also made off with three steals.
Garrett garnered two twos and three threes for 13 points, including his second three-ball which officially jump-started the Warriors’ 26-point binge, as Jimison chipped in 10 on two deuces and two treys.
Ryan Boone —on three field goals and 3-of-3 free throws — notched nine points, while Burns bagged eight.
Speaking of eight, Portsmouth senior scoring machine Matthew Fraulini —on two threes and a two —led the Trojans with that many markers.
However, the Warriors wrapped him under for just 25-percent (3-of-12) from the field.
Dixon and Miles Shipp sank two twos and a three apiece, as it was Dixon’s rebound putback which made it 26-19 with 53 seconds left in the first half.
Dariyonne Bryant with two first-quarter free throws and Drew Roe with a second-quarter bucket rounded out the Portsmouth scoring.
But Dixon, Shipp and Carr all went just 3-of-7 from the field, Roe recorded just 1-of-7, and Bryant was 0-for-5.
Shipp picked up two first-half fouls, and quickly was tagged for two more in the third.
“We had our defense set, and was able to mix and match our man and our zone in the first half. We were able to get rebounding position. The second half, when they got the game going up and down and got things going their way, they were able to spread us out,” said Collins. “It really hurt with Miles getting into foul trouble, because we’re really small in there. It affected a lot of things we wanted to do.”
What the Trojans wanted to do was return to the district tournament, but Saturday instead marked the final game for their two seniors: Fraulini and Jack Workman.
Fraulini is a 1,000-point scorer, and finishes among the top-10 all-time in the rich and proud history of Portsmouth boys basketball.
“My two seniors are great. Matt is a three-year starter, 1,000-point scorer, and just a great player. Jack Workman wanted nothing but to play a role on this team. He was an inspirational kid and a great leader for us,” said Collins, who completes his 11th season as the PHS head coach. “Couldn’t be more proud of both of those guys.”
Collins — who became the second all-time winningest coach in Trojan history this season — said that with an underclassmen-heavy roster returning next year, “commitment” will be the key.
“We have to commit. Our big word is ‘commitment. How much commitment will we have in the spring and summer? That will be a tell-tale sign if we can get this thing turned around and over the hump,” he said. “We have to get better. Hopefully, our young kids stay together and come back in 30 days and are ready to go to work again.”
* * *
Portsmouth 13 13 0 6—32
Eastern Brown 11 11 21 13 —56
PORTSMOUTH 32 (10-13)
Amare Johnson 0 0-2 0, Matthew Fraulini 3 0-0 8, Dariyonne Bryant 0 2-2 2, Jack Workman 0 0-0 0, Drew Roe 1 0-0 2, Jesse Dixon 3 0-0 7, Miles Shipp 3 0-0 7, Chris Duff 0 0-0 0, Jaylind Thomas 0 0-0 0, Donovan Carr 3 0-0 6; TOTALS 13 2-4 32; Three-point goals: 4 (Matthew Fraulini 2, Jesse Dixon and Miles Shipp 1 apiece)
EASTERN BROWN 56 (22-1)
Ryan Boone 3 3-3 9, Luke Garrett 5 0-0 13, Colton Vaughn 0 0-2 0, Ethan Daniels 0 0-0 0, Titus Burns 3 1-1 8, Dustin Jimison 4 0-0 10, Landyn Pickerill 0 0-0 0, Ian Wiles 0 0-0 0, Christian Amburgey, Trent Handley 6 3-3 16; TOTALS 21 7-9 56; Three-point goals: 7 (Luke Garnett 3, Dustin Jimison 2, Titus Burns 1)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved