Trojans earn respect in sunshine state

By Chris Slone

January 2, 2014

Chris Slone

Sports Editor

The Portsmouth Trojans spent part of their holiday break in Florida, looking for experience on the court and camaraderie away from the hardwood.

Five days and three wins later, the Trojans checked both goals off their holiday wish list.

Portsmouth won its bracket by defeating Liberty Christian Prep (Fla.) 69-63 in the championship game. Ky’re Allison was named team MVP after averaging 22 points per game.

“He had a phenomenal tournament,” Portsmouth coach Gene Collins said. “He played every minute of every game.”

To go along with the scoring touch, Allison recorded double-doubles in each of the final two contests. In the semifinal match against Owen County (Ky.), Allison scored 23 points and recorded 10 rebounds. In the championship match, Allison scored 25 points and pulled in 11 boards.

“He plays the point for us, and he leads us in scoring, he leads us in rebounding, he’s just off to a phenomenal start in his sophomore year,” Collins said. “He’s on a pretty amazing cliff right now.”

Including the tournament, Allison is averaging 21.5 points per game and eight rebounds per contest.

“He just means so much to everybody,” Collins said. “He is all around a good kid and a great teammate.”

Another integral part of the Trojans’ championship run was Isiaha Lisath, who finished with 18 points in the final contest against the lions. Lisath was hot from behind the arc, hitting four of his five attempts.

“He stepped up really big for us,” Collins said. “He had struggled shooting some, but he really shot it well that game. And because he shot it so well, they had to adjust their game. They started out playing zone and had to switch to man-to-man because of his shooting.”

Sky Oliver also played strong for Portsmouth, hitting 8 out of his 10 attempts from the charity stripe, while finishing with 10 points in the championship game.

“He had a really good floor game and he also made some big free throws at the end to help us secure that win,” Collins said.

Aside from the on-court success, Collins learned a great deal about his young team.

“We found ways to become much closer as a group,” Collins said. “When you go to Florida and you spend five days together, you’re around each other 24 hours a day, you really get an opportunity to know each other. I think the kids know me better and I certainly know them a whole lot better. I think this group learned how to become closer as a team.”

The experience did not come without some adversity, which according to Collins, helped the Trojans mature as a team.

“We had some adversity, in the Owen County game, we were down 14-3 early,” Collins said. “The game was back and fourth. We were down three with three minutes to go but we were able to gut out a good, hard fought win. Then, in the championship game, we went tooth and nail against a bigger Liberty Christian team. They only out rebounded us by one. It really showed our ability to compete against teams, even if we are undersized.”

Now that the team has returned to the Buckeye State, Collins knows the work is far from over.

“We are going to have to continue to work on our defense,” Collins said. “Our help defense has got to get better. Our positioning has got to get better. We get beat off the dribble to much. If we fix those issues, we have a chance to become really good at the end of the year.”

With league play on the horizon for Portsmouth, Collins was appreciative of the opportunity.

“It was a good opportunity to get away,” Collins said. “It was nice to play schools from different parts of the country. It was very rewarding to go down and win our bracket. I think the kids will have confidence coming back, getting ready for league play. Hats off to the kids for not only representing our school but the state of Ohio as well as a few other Ohio teams that went down and played well.”

Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or cslone@civitasmedia.com. For breaking sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.