PDT Sports Writer
A rivalry such as Wheelersburg-Portsmouth comes down to the littlest of details on how any game finishes.
Tuesday night was no exception as Jayllen Carter was 5-of-6 from the free throw line down the stretch as the host Trojans defeated the Pirates 49-46 in a nonconference match-up. The senior finished with a game-high 21 points and seven rebounds, six of them coming in the final period.
“We expect him to be consistent for us,” Portsmouth coach Gene Collins said. “He’s the veteran, he’s the only guy that’s been through the wars and certainly he makes us better when he’s shooting them in.”
The game started off fast as the two teams combined to make the first six shots of the contest. When Wheelersburg senior Derek Moore’s 3-point attempt became the first miss of the contest, the Trojans led 10-5.
“Obviously the tempo is what they excel at,” Pirates coach Tom Barrick said as his team committed 20 turnovers in the game. “If we said or anybody else says anything else, they’re fooling themselves obviously. The tempo was to their liking and we were not good at that tempo, we didn’t handle the ball well, we didn’t make good decisions and that’s a problem.”
Sky Oliver’s first field goal of the night prompted a Wheelersburg timeout with 4:53 left in the opening stanza. The rest proved beneficial for the Pirates as they wrapped the quarter with a 9-2 run to make it 14-14 entering the second quarter.
Carter’s triple with 6:24 left in the half were the first points of the frame. More importantly, it broke a 6:29 stretch without a Portsmouth field goal and a 5:19 period between points for the hosts. Collins said his team is still trying to avoid these lulls.
“That’s been our Achilles Heel to this point where we go long spells without scoring,” Collins said. “Typically it’s when the game has slowed down and we get into the half court. We shoot sometimes too quickly, we don’t get ball reversal and we’re still learning how to do that.”
On the other side of the court, Barrick felt his team was able to claw back by slowing the pace to a half-court game.
“It was more of where we were able to guard them down in the circle,” Barrick said. “That’s something that we have to be able to do. They didn’t get as many opportunities in transition.”
There would be two more deadlocks in the quarter before the Trojans went into intermission with a 27-23 lead. The only two offensive rebounds in the half for either team were gathered up by Portsmouth with less than four minutes to go in the second.
Wheelersburg tied it one final time early in the third thanks to baskets from Dylan Miller—who led the visitors with 15 points and eight rebounds—and Moore. That’s when the Trojans started a 10-3 run that lasted the remainder of the third. Portsmouth would not face another tie the remainder of the game.
The Pirates last gasp came on Moore’s final field goal to make it 41-40 Trojans. Portsmouth, which went 3-of-11 from the arc after shooting more than 25 3-pointers in the opening loss to South Webster, were 6-of-8 down the stretch from the charity stripe to seal the victory.
“That was a big help,” Collins said.
Both teams now rest up for a few days before playing their first back-to-back contests of the season. Wheelersburg travels to Waverly Friday to open SOC II play while the Trojans travel to Jackson. Both coaches believe this game revealed many strengths and weaknesses heading into the season.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wheelersburg 14 9 7 16 — 46
Portsmouth 14 13 10 12 — 49
Wheelersburg—E. Miller 1-0-2, Claxon 1-5-7, Cowgill 5-2-12, D. Miller 5-4-15, Moore 4-1-10, Totals 16-12-46.
Portsmouth—Oliver 3-3-10, Lisath 2-0-4, Allison 2-0-4, Porter 3-0-7, Carter 6-8-21, Peano 0-1-1, Delotell 1-0-2, Totals 17-12-49.
3-Point Goals—Wheelersburg 2 (D. Miller, Moore); Portsmouth 3 (Oliver, Porter, Carter).
Records—Wheelersburg 0-1; Portsmouth 1-0.