PORTSMOUTH — The Wheelersburg Pirates played fast, and shot well, and that quickly turned Saturday night’s non-league rivalry tilt against Portsmouth into a runaway.
As a result, the Pirates — not needing any snow tires on Saturday night for the short drive home —remain undefeated.
Wheelersburg went off at least 17 points in each quarter, never trailed, and pretty much had its way with the host Trojans en route to a 66-41 victory inside Portsmouth High School’s Trojan Arena.
With the win, Wheelersburg raised its record to a perfect 11-0, while the Trojans slipped to an even 5-5.
Wheelersburg won the opening quarter 17-7 and hit three three-point goals in the process, part of a 36-21 opening half that soon ballooned to 56-31 — after the Pirates doubled up the Trojans 20-10 in the third period.
The Pirates hit 14 of their 25 first-half shots for a fiery 56-percent, including 5-of-11 (45-percent) from three-point land, while Portsmouth posted an 8-of-27 (30-percent) first-half effort — with only one first-half made trey on seven tries.
For the game, Wheelersburg was a spot-on 50-percent shooting on 26-of-52, which included attacking the rim in transition and hitting 20 of its 35 two-point attempts.
The Pirates also doubled up the Trojans 43-21 in rebounding, as Jonah Lawson led with nine and Carter McCorkle —who made seven of his opening eight shots for 14 points —added eight.
Portsmouth only shot 31-percent on 15-of-48, and eventually fell behind by as much as 60-32 with 5:45 remaining before the 25-point final.
Simply put, when Wheelersburg shoots and defends this well and can play at that fast of pace, the Pirates are difficult to deal with.
“We shot the ball well early and that helped pulled them out of the zone, and we were able to get comfortable and settle in offensively. And I thought we did a really good job defensively. They have a lot of offensive weapons. Guys that can put the ball on the floor, guys which can shoot it and length inside, so they are threat with four or five guys who can score double figures every night,” said Wheelersburg coach Steven Ater. “I was proud of our guys’ preparation all week for this game. Getting back to the basics and fundamentals.”
The closest the Trojans came was a 3-2 deficit on a Miles Shipp putback, which followed the Pirates’ J.J. Truitt splashing a three-pointer off an Eli Swords assist on the game’s opening possession.
It was all Wheelersburg after that, as Truitt and Kenny Sanderlin sank three-pointers for a 13-6 cushion — as Truitt and Matthew Miller made second-quarter three-pointers that pushed the lead out to 23-7 only a minute and 13 seconds gone by in the period.
Portsmouth prefers to play a zone, but the Pirates simply shot them out of it.
“We knew we had matchup issues if we played man-to-man. We were hoping they wouldn’t shoot it in like they did. But when you’re shooting it in and offensively we can’t score, it makes it an even more difficult task for us. We already knew it was going to be tough to start with,” said Portsmouth coach Gene Collins. “They have so many weapons that you have to cover.”
Truitt with 15, Miller with 14, McCorkle with 14 and Sanderlin with 13 — along with Swords scoring seven in the third on two field goals and 3-of-3 free throws —demonstrated a precision offensive onslaught and balance.
Behind McCorkle’s seven, Miller mustered six field goals, followed by five apiece from Truitt and Sanderlin.
Wheelersburg’s largest first-half lead was 34-14 on Lawson’s lone two points.
The Pirates shared the basketball well, amounting 13 assists.
“The best thing about our offense I will say is that it promotes balance,” said Ater. “It won’t get everybody a guaranteed number of touches and we’re not running plays, but it creates nightmares for a scouting report. Who do you key on? Several guys have the ability to step up. When you get four or five guys who can put up double figures every night, that makes you more dangerous. It’s fun to share the basketball and see your teammates have success. When you play without an agenda and the only thing you are looking at is is team points, you have a great chance to be successful. Our kids have that mindset, so give them credit.”
Chris Duff dialed up 11 points, including 4-of-4 free throws, to pace the Trojans.
Shipp netted nine points on four buckets and a foul shot, and had a team-high seven rebounds.
Donavon Carr chipped in eight points on three field goals — as he, Duff and Amare Johnson, who scored five points, all drilled a three-point goal.
“They (Pirates) are very good in the half-court defensively too,” said Collins. “They kept us out of running anything we wanted to consistently. When we tried to get to the rim, their big guys are changing shots and blocking shots. We wanted to make them guard us, but we rushed some shots and they took us out of what we wanted to do. They make it hard for you to score.”
The Trojans’ two Ohio Valley Conference contests this week —against Chesapeake on Tuesday night and against Fairland on Friday night —have been postponed due to coronavirus quarantines involving those two clubs.
Portsmouth is now scheduled to play at Minford on Saturday night in another non-league affair.
The Pirates returned to the road on Tuesday night, and returned to their league-leading Southern Ohio Conference Division II competition, when they visited Valley.
* * *
Wheelersburg 17 19 20 10 — 66
Portsmouth 7 14 10 10— 41
WHEELERSBURG 66 (11-0)
Aaron Jolly 0 0-0 0, Matthew Miller 6 0-0 14, Eli Swords 2 3-3 7, Jonah Lawson 1 0-0 2, Carter McCorkle 7 0-0 14, J.J. Truitt 5 2-6 15, Kenny Sanderlin 5 2-3 13, Nolan Wright 0 1-2 1; TOTALS 26 8-14 66; Three-point field goals: 6 (J.J. Truitt 3, Matthew Miller 2 and Kenny Sanderlin 1)
PORTSMOUTH 41 (5-5)
Amare Johnson 2 0-0 5, Drew Roe 0 0-0 0, Dariyonne Bryant 2 0-2 4, Chris Duff 3 4-4 11, Daewin Spence 0 1-2 1, Donavon Carr 3 1-2 8, Michael Duncan 1 1-1 3, Miles Shipp 4 1-3 9; TOTALS 15 8-14 41; Three-point field goals: 3 (Amare Johnson, Chris Duff and Donavon Carr 1 apiece)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved