PORTSMOUTH — Pressure, traps, and a little more pressure.
That’s the recipe that helped the Portsmouth Trojans jump out to a 33-17 halftime lead over visiting Gallia Academy for their third straight win of the 2020-21 season.
In total, the Trojans forced 20 GA turnovers by game’s end, while committing just 11 of their own — en route to Tuesday’s 58-55 win inside Trojan Arena in Ohio Valley Conference play.
Portsmouth’s effort on the defensive end helped raise their record to 4-2 — and above .500 to 3-2 in OVC play.
After the win, Trojans coach Eugene Collins said applying pressure to the Blue Devils’ guards was a key part of their preparatory gameplan.
“I felt like we did a really, really good job of taking it (ball) out of their point guard’s hands and making them bring it up with guys who don’t normally handle it,” Collins said. “That was part of our gameplan, and I thought it worked well for three quarters. Mixed a little bit of run and jump at them sometimes, sometimes didn’t to help us get that lead.”
Portsmouth’s late struggles weren’t emblematic of its successes in building a near 20-point advantage through the first 24 minutes, but it did allow Gallia Academy to make a late run.
The Blue Devils indeed won the fourth quarter 21-7, cutting the Trojans’ lead to as few as three on two occasions.
Several of Portsmouth’s 11 turnovers came during the game’s final eight minutes, as Collins’ club connected on just two field goals and made just three-of-10 free throws during that stretch.
“They took advantage of some of the mistakes we made on our press, and offensively I felt like we made some bad decisions,” Collins said. “Some turnovers, shot too quick at times — tried to isolate trying to get matchups. Hats off to them for sticking around. But when we give up 21 points in a quarter, that’s way too many points for us. We’ve got to get better at the line, also.”
Senior Chris Duff led the Trojans in scoring with a game-high 26 points — each of which came in the first three quarters.
Duff connected on five of Portsmouth’s six made threes, including three in the opening period.
Fellow senior Miles Shipp also reached double figures with 10 points on five field goals, while having to battle Gallia’s six-foot-eight center Isaac Clary.
Junior Amare Johnson added seven to the Trojans’ total, and certainly impacted the Blue Devils guards on the opposite end with his quickness.
“Amare got to the rim early and was able to finish. Chris got some good looks and was able to lead us in scoring,” Collins said. “We need Chris Duff to have big nights like he did tonight in order for us to score. We asked Miles to front a six-foot-eight, 350-pound kid and he did a phenomenal job. Everything that he (Clary) got he had to work for, and of course he was in foul trouble on the other end because of how hard we had to make him work.”
Portsmouth — now winners of three straight and two in a row in OVC play — begins a four-game stretch that will help determine both its in-league fate and overall record.
On Saturday, the Trojans begin a three-game road trip against West Union, before traveling to OVC foes Coal Grove and South Point next week.
A week from Saturday (Jan. 16), Portsmouth will welcome unbeaten Wheelersburg to Trojan Arena — a place where this year’s group of Trojans have yet to lose.
Friday’s previously-scheduled home game against Ironton was postponed to Feb. 9, due to the Fighting Tigers undergoing a COVID-19 related quarantine.
All the while, Collins said there’s still things his group needs to improve upon, beginning with limiting their turnovers and mental mistakes.
“We’ve got to continue to compete. And we’ve got to minimizing our turnovers and mistakes,” Collins said. “Just those mental mistakes, whether it’s not being where you’re supposed to be, not making the right cut offensively. Defensively don’t gamble on plays we shouldn’t. We’ve got a tough, tough stretch coming up starting with West Union on Saturday.”
* * *
Gallia Academy 4 13 17 21 — 55
Portsmouth 14 19 18 7 — 58
GALLIA ACADEMY 55 (1-2, 0-1 OVC)
Cooper Davis 3 4-4 11, Kenyon Franklin 2 2-3 6, Noah Vanco 1 0-0 3, Brody Fellure 3 0-0 6, Drake Phillips 0 0-0 0, Trent Johnson 2 0-0 6, Wesley Saunders 1 1-2 3, Carson Call 2 3-4 7, Connor Walter 0 0-0 0, Isaac Clary 6 1-4 13; TOTALS 20 11-17 55; Three-point field goals: 4 (Trent Johnson 2, Noah Vanco and Cooper Davis 1 apiece)
PORTSMOUTH 58 (4-2, 3-2 OVC)
Amare Johnson 3 1-4 7, Drew Roe 1 1-2 4, Dariyonne Bryant 1 0-0 2, Chris Duff 7 7-9 26, Daewin Spence 2 0-0 4, Donovan Carr 1 1-2 3, Michael Duncan 0 0-0 0, Miles Shipp 5 0-0 10, Devin Lattimore 1 0-0 2, Tyler Duncan 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 21 10-17 58; Three-point field goals: 6 (Chris Duff 5, Drew Roe 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved