CENTENARY, Ohio — The Trojans crashed Gallia Academy’s senior night party, then held a little celebration of their own.
The Portsmouth boys basketball team captured its first Southeastern Ohio Athletic League championship in more than eight decades Friday night following a 67-50 decision over host Gallia Academy in the regular season finale for both clubs in Gallia County.
The visiting Trojans (18-2, 9-1 SEOAL) clinched their first SEOAL title since the 1927-28 campaign, the last year they competed in the league before rejoining in the fall of 2006. Besides erasing an 84-year drought between crowns, the triumph also gave PHS its third hoops title in nine total seasons as a member of the SEOAL.
The Blue Devils (3-17, 1-9) did everything to prevent Portsmouth’s title hopes early on, as the hosts battled through six ties and seven lead changes in the first half before entering the intermission down 33-26.
Portsmouth, however, sealed the deal on the contest in the third canto, as the guests used a 21-10 surge to secure a 54-36 advantage headed into the finale. GAHS closed regulation with a small 14-13 spurt to wrap up the 17-point decision.
Portsmouth, which has now won 15 straight decisions, claimed a season sweep of Gallia Academy after posting a 77-36 home decision back on Jan. 6. GAHS has now dropped 13 consecutive contests with the setback.
PHS jumped out to an 8-0 advantage two minutes into regulation, but the hosts countered with 10 straight points over the next minute-and-a-half to claim a 10-8 edge with 4:27 left in the opening period. Portsmouth retaliated with six consecutive points to round out the first quarter with a small 14-10 lead.
The Blue Devils rallied to knot things up at 14, 16, and again at 18, then Nick Saunders buried a three-pointer with 3:17 left in the half to give the hosts a 21-18 edge. GAHS extended its lead out to 23-20 with 2:31 remaining, but the guests reeled off 10 straight points to claim a 30-23 lead with 41 seconds left in the half.
Saunders hit his fourth trifecta of the half with 10 seconds left, allowing the Devils to cut the deficit down to 30-26. Zaide Whitley, however, answered with a three just before the buzzer, allowing the Trojans to take a 33-26 lead into halftime.
PHS opened the second half with seven straight points for a 40-26 advantage with 6:24 left in the third, and the hosts never came within single digits the rest of the way. Portsmouth closed the third stanza on a 14-10 run for an 18-point lead headed into the stretch run.
Portsmouth’s biggest lead of the night was 21 points, which twice occurred at 58-37 with 6:26 left and again at 60-39 with 5:16 remaining. GAHS closed the final five minutes of the game with an 11-7 run, but never came closer than 15 points (65-50) with 42 ticks left in regulation.
Gallia Academy committed 21 turnovers in the setback, 14 of which came in the opening half of play. Portsmouth, conversely, had only 12 turnovers in the triumph.
Saunders led the hosts with 20 points, with 14 of those coming in the opening two quarters of play. Aaron Jackson was next with 11 points, followed by Justin Bailey with eight points and Cody Call with four markers.
Wade Jarrell added three points in the losing effort, while Reid Eastman and Joel Johnston rounded things out with two markers apiece. GAHS was 11-of-19 at the free throw line for 58 percent.
Wayne Evans paced PHS with 20 points, followed by Dion McKinley with 16 markers. Len Collins and Zaide Whitley both added 10 points apiece, while Kyle Ratcliffe and Seth Bratchett respectively added four and three points.
Jovontae Edwards and Robert Grubbs rounded out the winning score with two markers each. The Trojans were 6-of-17 at the charity stripe for 35 percent.
Before the game, Gallia Academy honored seniors Joel Johnston, Nick Saunders and Bryce Amos for their years of dedicated service to the program.
The Blue Devils now turn their attention to the Division II sectional tournament, as GAHS will face New Lexington at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Logan High School.
Portsmouth 67, Gallia Academy 50
P14-19-21-13 — 67
GA 10-16-10-14 — 50
PORTSMOUTH (18-2, 9-1 SEOAL): L.J. Adams 0 0-0 0, Jovontae Edwards 1 0-0 2, Cody Stapleton 0 0-0 0, Zaide Whitley 4 0-2 10, Seth Bratchett 1 1-2 3, Trevor Violette 0 0-0 0, Jayllen Carter 0 0-0 0, Len Collins 4 1-2 10, James Horsley 0 0-0 0, Wayne Evans 8 4-6 20, Dion McKinley 8 0-1 16, Porter 0 0-0 0, Robert Grubbs 1 0-4 2, Peand 0 0-0 0, Kyle Ratcliffe 2 0-0 4. TOTALS: 29 6-17 67. Three-point goals: 3 (Whitley 2, Collins). Turnovers: 12.
GALLIA ACADEMY (3-17, 1-9 SEOAL): Reid Eastman 1 0-0 2, Logan Allison 0 0-0 0, Joel Johnston 1 0-0 2, Justin Bailey 3 2-5 8, Nick Saunders 6 4-5 20, Wade Jarrell 0 3-4 3, Aaron Jackson 4 2-2 11, Jeremy Wilson 0 0-0 0, Cody Call 2 0-3 4, Seth Atkins 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17 11-19 50. Three-point goals: 5 (Saunders 4, Jackson). Turnovers: 21.