Thursday, March 3, 2011

Portsmouth Boys Clinch #3 Seed, Beat Rival Oyster River

They were playing without one of their best players. They went on the road against their fierce rival and were able to grind out a victory to ruin their opponent's senior night. And in doing so they were able to clinch the #3 seed in the Division II boys basketball tournament. That means that not only do they get home games in the first 2 rounds of the tournament, but it also means they avoid having to play against defending champion Milford until the title game.

Sophomore sharpshooter Terrance Herbert sat out for the Clippers. But Kamahl Walker, Kyle DiCesare, Riley McCarthy and Gregg Tsougranis all picked up the slack and played well in his absence. And Portsmouth defeated Oyster River 55-49 on Thursday night in Durham to end the regular season with an impressive 15-3 record.

Game Went Down to the Wire
This was a close, hard fought, back-and-forth contest. It was senior night for Oyster River, so only 1 of their usual starters started this game. As a result, Portsmouth jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead. DiCesare and Kamahl Walker (18 points) both started off shooting the ball well for the Clippers.

"I was really hoping we would be able to get in rhythm heading into the playoffs" said Oyster River head coach Stuart Mitchell. "It didn't happen though, we're just not quite there yet."

Portsmouth then went cold from the field, and play was sloppy on both sides for the remainder of the 1st quarter. There were some silly turnovers by both teams. The Bobcats were able to get back in the game though, behind the strong play of senior guard Chris Walker and senior forward Adam Goodwin, who grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it in to cut the Portsmouth lead to 10-6. It was Portsmouth 10 Oyster River 8 after 1. It was an ugly opening stanza, but fortunately the level of play did get better over the game's next 3 quarters.

Oyster River continued to play solid defense, resulting in a 15-10 lead early in the 2nd quarter. The Bobcats were on a 13-2 run. Chris Walker had a very nice 2nd quarter offensively for Oyster River, and he ended up with a game-high 21 points. Portsmouth answered back though, as DiCesare and Kamahl Walker started to heat back up from the outside. They hit back-to-back threes, and just like that the Clippers were up 18-17. Chris Walker came right back for Oyster River with a nice spin move and turnaround jumper, leading the Bobcats to a 3 point lead, 21-18. DiCesare picked up his third foul with 2:15 left in the 1st half.

McCarthy then came over from the weak side to make a nice blocked shot. McCarthy had a very nice all-around game. He had 2 blocked shots, over 10 rebounds, took charges and had some big shots inside as well.

"Riley was a monster on the boards" said Portsmouth head coach Jim Mulvey. And defensively he did a heck of a job on Goodwin, one of the best bigs in the division."

Oyster River sophomore guard Anthony Shea showed some nice hustle and defense late in the half, and the Bobcats led 24-22 at the break.

In the 3rd quarter Portsmouth came out in a match-up zone. Oyster River had some problems with it. Chris Walker was still making plays but didn't have much help. Nick DiVeglia also had a solid game for the Bobcats.

DiCesare (16 points) had a tough call go against him, resulting in his 4th personal foul with 3:20 left in the 3rd quarter. You would think that would have opened the door for Oyster River to make a run. But instead it was Portsmouth who was able to put a few baskets together. Kamahl Walker hit another 3, and McCarthy took a charge on Goodwin. And Portsmouth went up 37-31 (their largest lead since the game's first couple minutes). Helping the Clipper's cause was the fact that Goodwin also picked up his 4th foul and had to go to the bench.

The game was far from over though, as Oyster River battled back and made an 8-2 run to tie the game up at 39-39. Goodwin (12 points and 10 rebounds) returned to the lineup and converted a big and-1 off an offensive rebound. DiVeglia add a pair of foul shots to tie it up.

The action continued to heat up, as Kamahl Walker made a runner in the lane to put Portsmouth back up 41-39. Chris Walker answered right back for the Bobcats, hitting a step-back three from the right wing to put Oyster River up 42-41 with 4;03 left in regulation.

Unfortunately for Coach Mitchell's team, Goodwin then fouled out with 3:39 left. DiVeglia then hit a big shot around the foul line, banking it off the glass to tie it up at 44-44. DiCesare came right back for Portsmouth and made a nice basket inside to put the Clippers back up 46-44. Kamahl Walker followed that up with a nice drive-and-dish, finding McCarthy inside for 2. Junior forward Charlie Duprey then converted a wide open shot inside off the inbounds play to put Portsmouth up 50-45 with 1:14 left.

It wasn't over quite yet, though. Down by 2 possessions with under a minute left Oyster River was being a little deliberate on offense. But then Shea drilled a big three-pointer to make it a 2 point game, 50-48 with 48.5 seconds remaining. Portsmouth added some free throws late though, and were able to hold on for the 55-49 final. Tsougranis had a big offensive rebound off a missed free throw, and then he went to the line and made both shots.

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