WAVERLY, Ohio – It wasn’t the ending the Portsmouth Trojans and their fans were hoping for Saturday evening at the old Waverly High School. Portsmouth was looking to take home another sectional championship, and move on to the district semi-final round to be played at the Convocation Center in Athens. Unfortunately that wasn’t what happened for the Trojans.
The Eastern Brown Warriors were too much for the Portsmouth Trojans Saturday evening. After a nearly paper thin lead after three quarters of play, Eastern Brown would hang on and defeat Portsmouth 72-58, to claim a sectional championship, and an advancement in the OHSAA Division III basketball tournament.
“I think in terms of the game, it was a game that Eastern Brown got the game at their pace, for the majority of the game,” Portsmouth coach Gene Collins said. “We had one run in the end of the second quarter to get the game tied, but the majority of the game was played at Eastern Brown’s tempo, which really hurt us.”
The first half of the contest was basically a wash between the Trojans and Warriors. Portsmouth finished the first quarter with a one-point lead, 15-14, thanks to some great shooting by Ethan Leonard, Ky’re Allison, and Trent Rodbell, who all hit big three-pointers in the period.
Three-point field goals were also a big part of the Trojans second quarter, as Portsmouth would get three more baskets from behind the arc. Leonard, Allison, and DJ Eley all connected with threes during the 12-point second quarter for the Trojans.
At halftime, the number three seeded Trojans were tied with the number six seeded Warriors, 27-27.
The three-pointer continued to fuel the Trojan offense in the third quarter, as Rodbell and Kendal Reynolds each hit a trey to account for six of the 10 Portsmouth points in the period.
By the end of the third quarter, Eastern Brown had retaken the lead from Portsmouth, 40-37.
The close game would ultimately be decided in the fourth quarter as both teams went on a scoring spree.
Allison would have his best performance of the night in the game’s final period. The all-time leading scorer in Portsmouth basketball history scored 15 points in the fourth quarter alone, hitting three three-pointers, a single two-point field goal, and shooting a perfect four-for-four from the free throw line.
Allison would lead all players in points Saturday night, finishing with 32 total points. He also hit six of the Trojans’ 12 three-pointers in the contest.
Despite the fantastic showing of Allison, Portsmouth was unable to catch up with Eastern Brown, who scored 32 points in the quarter, solidifying their 72-58 win over Portsmouth.
There were several keys the Trojans’ coaching staff felt were essential for a Portsmouth win. Unfortunately, Eastern Brown was able to overcome the Portsmouth plans.
“We needed to stop the transition baskets, but they started right off with a transition layup,” Collins said. “We wanted to try to eliminate their baseline, out of bounds plays, but I think on the third possession of the game they scored on it. Then we had to keep them off the offensive glass, and we weren’t successful at doing that. Those things were critical.”
Eastern Brown’s defense did a tremendous job limiting Allison and Reynolds throughout most of the game. Reynolds was held to only seven points in the loss, before he fouled out, while Allison was limited until the fourth quarter when he had his big offensive outbreak.
“They did a very good job of controlling Ky’re and Kendal, who had been our leading scorers,” Collins said.
Four seniors played their last game as a member of the Trojan basketball team. Colby Pearson, Ethan Leonard, Trent Rodbell, and Ky’re Allison will not be returning next year, as they will graduate in the spring.
“Collectively as a group, I was proud of the effort that the group gave,” Collins said. “It was certainly not how we wanted to end the season, but I’m proud of the effort they gave.”
Pearson, a transfer student from Pennsylvania, came in and started practicing with the Trojans in December. He was cleared for play by the OHSAA in January.
“He came in and kind of gave us a spark,” Collins said. “He didn’t get to play a whole lot, but when he came in we were 3-5, and we finished 16-8. He was able to give us some things in practice that we weren’t getting prior to him coming on board.”
Rodbell went from not having a lot of playing time to a starter his senior year.
“He gave us some good minutes,” Collins said.
Leonard was a season long starter this year.
“He started about half the year last year,” Collins said. “He really stepped up and a lot of times he got the assignment of guarding their best player. He really grew up.”
Finally, the all-time leading scorer in Portsmouth basketball history, Ky’re Allison also played his last game as a Trojan.
“He’s going to be a District Player of the Year, and is going to be in the North-South game, the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star game,” Collins said. “He’s probably going to be First Team All-State again, which is something I’m not sure if Portsmouth has ever had a kid make First Team All-State for two years in a row. If there’s somebody else, it won’t be many.
“I just can’t say enough about how great kids they are,” Collins said.
Portsmouth – Allison 10-6-32, Leonard 3-0-8, Rodbell 2-2-8, Reynolds 3-0-7, Eley 1-0-3
Eastern Brown – Bellamy 8-5-23, Hundley 3-10-16, Day 3-4-11, Kelch 3-3-10, Rigdom 3-2-8, Purdy 1-0-2, Stivees 0-1-1, Doss 0-1-1
Three-point field goals – Portsmouth 12 (Allison 6, Leonard 2, Rodbell 2, Eley, Reynolds) Eastern Brown 4 (Bellamy 2, Day, Kelch)
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.