PORTSMOUTH — Since taking over at all levels of the Portsmouth junior high and high school girls basketball programs, coaches Amy and Mike Hughes have overseen the improvement and growth of current — and future — Lady Trojan teams.
The duo’s coaching experience and subsequent success speaks for itself, but is worth remembering.
Before accepting the bid to become the newest Portsmouth varsity girls basketball coach ahead of the 2018-19 season, Amy Hughes spent two years as the coach at Rock Hill, four years at Ironton, and another three at Chillicothe.
In each of those stops, the program’s record improved from below .500 to above by the time of her departure.
Her father Mike, the head coach of the Lady Trojans’ junior high team and Amy’s varsity assistant, has also dedicated much of his life inside southern Ohio gyms.
Earning at least one undefeated season in his three years coaching boys at South Point, another six at Wheelersburg, 11 at Green and during his stint as the South Webster girls coach, Mike Hughes is believed to be one of the only — if not the only — coach in Ohio history to have four undefeated seasons at four different schools.
You may be wondering… what exactly does this mean for Portsmouth girls basketball?
The Lady Trojans, not having won a sectional championship since 2004 nor a district championship since 1985, may soon be up to the task of ending those respective program droughts.
“We knew we had to build from the ground up, that was our theory,” Mike Hughes said. “We wanted to start with the pee wee program and work from there.”
In Portsmouth’s first game of the 2020-21 season — a 39-33 road win over Whiteoak — the Lady Trojans started four freshmen and a lone junior, Nia Trinidad.
This year’s Lady Trojans’ roster features no seniors, a junior, six sophomores, and a promising seven-girl freshman class that decidedly fits the bill of the type of foundation any future successful program hopes to have.
Coming up through Portsmouth’s junior high program is a group that hopes to add to its varsity roster pool in the coming years.
A season ago, Portsmouth’s seventh-grade team was Ohio Valley Conference co-champions — and was the only team to defeat fellow league co-champion and Southeast District mainstay Fairland.
To start their 2020-21 season, the 8th-grade Lady Trojans are 4-0 — with wins over county rival Wheelersburg and OVC foes Ironton, Rock Hill and Chesapeake.
“We expect these kids to come right out of the Junior High and fit right into the varsity program, playing the type of basketball we want to see,” Hughes said.
While the goals of competing for OVC, sectional and district championships are long-term goals for a program with long-term potential, Hughes says their focus as a staff is on the here and now — teaching Lady Trojans at all levels how to play the game of basketball, fundamentally.
“We basically are working on fundamentals,” Hughes said. “I don’t want to teach them an offense, I just want to teach them how to play. Not plays, but how to play.”
A coaching staff with winning pedigree and a promising group soon to make its way to the varsity ranks makes the possibility of later success all the more likely… so stay tuned.
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