This is what high school basketball is all about. 2 of the best teams in the state going at it hard for 32 minutes, then head to overtime all tied up 55-55. The preseason favorites Bishop Brady vs. the undefeated Portsmouth Clippers. A hard fought, well played game, in front of a packed house. For many of those fans this will be one of the best high school games they'll ever see - an instant classic.
Portsmouth sophomore Shon Parham goes the length of the floor with 6 seconds left in OT and hits a tough floater along the baseline at the buzzer for the win. Final score: Portsmouth 65 Bishop Brady 63. A thrilling win for the Clippers, and a heartbreaking loss for the Giants.
"Coach told me to get up the sideline, he told me to push the ball so my teammates could get to the lane" said Parham, a 5-foot-10 floor general. "I saw their big guy there, but I knew there was only a couple seconds left. So I tried to make the shot, and just hoped it went in."
It did go in - at the buzzer, and the Parham was then mobbed near the foul line his teammates in celebration. Portsmouth wins, improving to 15-0 on the season.
Bishop had the 3 most talented individual players on the floor, with the Bell brothers and Brendan Johnson. But Portsmouth had the better TEAM, and they got the win tonight. Don't be surprised if we see a rematch in Durham at the Final Four. Who will win that one? Time will tell.
"It starts with me" lamented Bishop Brady head coach Cole Etten. "I need to have them more prepared."
It's not how start, it's how you finish. Bishop Brady led 16-5 in the 1st quarter. They led at the end of the 1st, the 2nd and the 3rd quarter. Yet Portsmouth gets the win. They grinded it out, using their match up zone defense to deny the Bell brothers Jourdain and Joe from penetrating to the rim, frustrating them and forcing both players into many turnovers in the 2nd half.
"Coach was telling us they were going to be driving, so we were prepared for it" said Portsmouth High sophomore forward Joey Glynn, who was a beast inside with 16 points and 12 rebounds. "We knew they like to drive and we were looking for the lay downs to their big guy (Aaron Svendsen)."
Johnson had a heck of a game, dropping a game-high 32 points. He hit three 3-pointers, was also effective slashing to the rim and finishing in the half court as well as finishing in transition.
"Brendan played his heart out tonight" said Coach Etten. "He played a great game, he did all I could ask for."
Portsmouth packed in their defense to take away Brady's dribble drive, but they kept on driving against it. The Giants moved the ball much better in the 1st half, but in the 2nd half they relied more on 1-on-1 basketball. Portsmouth meanwhile had 5 kids on the court who could all hurt you. The Clippers moved the ball unselfishly, working it inside and out. 7 different kids scored for PHS and 5 of them had at least 9. Only 4 kids for Brady scored, while just 3 of them scored more than 9.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game" said Parham. "We dug down deep, and stuck together as a team. We stepped up on defense, and focused on stopping the Bell brothers."
Leading the Clippers in scoring was freshman shooting guard Cody Graham, with 17 points. Glynn had 16, Parham chipped in with 10 while Loden Formichelli and Charlie Lehoux had 9 apiece. Graham drilled several big shots, especially a 3-pointer from the corner which gave the Clippers the early lead in overtime.
"That was definitely a boost in OT" said Parham, who also plays football for Portsmouth. "It got us going, and ready to make stops on defense."
Graham's big 3 in OT came after Joe Bell stepped in on 'D' to take a charge. Graham's clutch 3 made it 58-55 Portsmouth in OT. A huge shot for a freshman to hit. Graham turned to the crowd, all pumped up, showing emotion as he headed back on defense.
"Cody is a big time shooter, he has been getting us fired up like that all season" added Glynn.
Brady quickly answered with an inside bucket by Svendsen, but Portsmouth countered on the other end by throwing a lob pass up for Glynn off a sideline out of bounds play. Glynn caught the pass, and while still in mid-air he laid it in for 2. Jourdain Bell quickly answered on the other end, driving to the rim for a strong finish. On the next trip down it was Johnson slashing to the rim for an and-1. Johnson pumped his fist in jubilation as he headed to the free throw line. You could tell how much both teams wanted to win this game. There was a lot of emotion out there.
After Johnson's bucket it was 62-60 Brady with 1:28 left in OT. Johnson went back to the line soon after, for a 1-and-1. He made the first but missed the second, and it was 63-61 Giants with :50 left in the extra session. Portsmouth ball, as Parham takes it strong to the rim and Brady is called for the foul on the shot. Parham makes both FTs, and we're tied up 63-63 with 47 seconds left.
Brady tries to run the clock down, but Portsmouth played tenacious defense to get the ball back. Then with 6 seconds left in OT Parham races up the floor with the ball, hitting a tough floater along the baseline to win it at the buzzer.
"They gave it 110% out there" said Coach Etten.
You could feel the anticipation and intensity in the gym prior to tip off. Both teams were focused and ready to get after it. Glynn faced up and hit a jumper from the elbow to get the Clippers off to the quick 2-0 lead. But then Brady went on a 16-3 run. Jourdain Bell drove, dished it to Svendsen for a layup. Brady set up their full court press on the make, forcing a Portsmouth turnover. Then Joe Bell buried a 3 ball off the catch from the right wing. The pressure 'D' by Jourdain Bell forced a travel violation by Parham, and then Jourdain Bell slashed to the rim for an athletic finish. Then the Giants quickly got out in transition, with Jourdain Bell zipping a pass ahead to Johnson on the 2-on-1 break for the layup and a 9-2 Brady lead. Soon it was 11-2, as the Giants capped an 11-0 run with 3:03 left in the 1st quarter.
Then came another quick fast break bucket for Brady, as Jourdain Bell (11 points and 9 assists) threaded the needle again to Johnson for a layup. It was 13-3 Giants with 2:16 left in the 1st quarter, as Portsmouth head coach Jim Mulvey called timeout. Out of the timeout Brady continued to dominate, as Graham attempted a 3 from the left wing but Jourdain Bell swatted it away. Then Jourdain Bell drained a 3 of his own from the right wing and it was 16-5 Brady, capping their 16-3 run.
That's when the momentum quickly shifted to the Clippers, as they responded with a 13-0 run. Graham got the run started by hitting a step-back 3-pointer. Glynn tipped in a miss, and then Parham made a good post entry pass to Glynn who had position underneath fr another inside bucket. It was 16-12 Brady after 1 quarter.
Portsmouth continued their run in the 2nd quarter, as Parham connected on a 3 off the catch. On the other end Glynn drew a charge. Graham then hit a mid-range pull-up jumper, as the Clippers took a 17-16 lead with 6:05 left in the 1st half. A free throw capped the the 13-0 run, as the Clippers now led 18-16.
Johnson finally ended the Portsmouth run, draining a 3 from the right wing and putting Brady back on top 19-18. Then Johnson really started to get going, with a good take and reverse layup finish in traffic. Then Johnson caught a skip pass and as the defender closed out on him he used a shot fake to get the defender in the air. Johnson then drove baseline before hitting a nice floater. On the next trip down Johnson connected on another 3 from the right wing, capping a 10-1 run for Brady - all 10 points were by Johnson. The Giants now led 26-19 with 2:44 left in the 2nd quarter, as Coach Mulvey called another timeout.
Out of the timeout Johnson showed his ability to pass the basketball, as he drove to the rim before dishing it down to Svendsen (8 points) for a layup. Formichelli countered for Portsmouth by drilling a 3 from the left wing, but then Johnson hit yet another 3, this time off the catch off a good kick out pass by Jourdain Bell. It was 32-26 Brady at halftime. It was an intense, hard fought 1st half. Johnson was the difference thus far. He had 18 points, while no one else on either team had more than 6.
Johnson continued his strong play in the 3rd quarter, stepping in to take a charge on Formichelli. Lehoux made a nice move, faking out his defender and then switching the ball from his right to left hand in the lane before hitting the finger roll. Then the Clippers grabbed momentum, as they really started to find a rhythm inside inside with Glynn. Parham dished it to Glynn on a pick and roll for a layup. On the next trip down Graham drove the lane, dished it to Glynn for 2 more. That tied it up 32-32, as Portsmouth began the 2nd half with 6 consecutive points and forced Brady to call timeout with 5:30 left in the 3rd.
Glynn continued to work hard inside, grabbing his own rebound and going up strong for the put-back to tie it back up 34-34. Glynn then showed good hustle going after a rebound and loose ball.
Jourdain Bell played some tough on-ball defense on Parham, stealing the ball and going in for the layup. Lehoux then hit a quick 3 from the top of the key, putting the Clippers back ahead 37-36 and sending their fan section into a frenzy. It's an hour drive to Bishop Brady, so props to Portsmouth for having as many fans their as they did to support their undefeated Clippers.
Portsmouth was doing a nice job in the 3rd quarter of slowing the game down, packing in their match up zone defense and controlling the tempo. Brady is much more effective offensively when they're running and gunning as opposed to executing in the half court. All of a sudden they were dropping passes inside that would have been layups and traveling 3 times as they tried to catch and shoot it. Joe Bell hit a step-back 3, as the Giants took a 39-38 lead into the 4th quarter.
Brady started the 4th quarter with more defensive intensity, and that translated into buckets on the other end. Johnson hit a foul line pull-up jumper, and then after a quick steal by the Giants it was Johnson again with a quick layup to make it 43-38 Brady.
Graham answered with a 3-pointer off the catch. Johnson jumped the passing lane for a nice steal, again taking it in for the layup. Lehoux made a tough drive and finish, hut then Johnson countered on the other end by going hard to the rim for 2 more. The Giants had 3 steals and 1 deflection in the first 2 and a half minutes of the 4th quarter.
Jourdain Bell drove hard to the rim for a scoop shot in traffic. Then Johnson made another nice drive, a defender tried to take the charge but Johnson hit the floater rather than barreling into the defender. A savvy move and good finish with the finger roll by Johnson. Timeout Portsmouth, with Brady leading 51-46 with 4:02 left in regulation.
Formichelli buried a clutch 3 off the catch from the right corner off a baseline out of bounds play, cutting the Brady lead to 51-49 with 2:35 left. Jourdain drove into the lane, dishing it to Svendsen for a layup. Portsmouth raced back up the floor, and seconds later Graham hit a baseline floater and it was 53-51 Brady with 2:00 left in the 4th quarter.
Then came the play which at the time looked like was going to decide this game. Jourdain drive into the lane but was stripped. Portsmouth stole it, but Brady tried to steal it back. There was a scramble to recover the loose ball, and somehow Joe Bell ended up with it right under the basket. He lunged towards the bucket, scoring on Lehoux for an and-1. The FT was no good though, and Brady's lead was now 55-51.
Graham hit a pair of FTs, and then Portsmouth stole the ball as Jourdain Bell again turned it over in the half court. Following the steal the Clippers quickly got it ahead to Formichelli for the transition layup. Just like that we were all tied up 55-55 with just 20 seconds left in regulation.
Brady possession, and they call timeout with 12 seconds remaining. Johnson drove, dished it down to Svendsen who went up with it inside. The shot was swatted away by Glynn - what a block!
"I saw Johnson coming down and dished it off to him" said Glynn. "We've been working on help defense and rotations. I saw him go up for a shot and I blocked it."
A last second shot from way behind the 3-point line by Brady sophomore guard Matt Quirk was no good, and we were headed to overtime tied 55-55.
Portsmouth remains the only undefeated team in D-II. That's a scary thought, considering they were led in scoring by a freshman (Graham), they had a sophomore who was a beast inside (Glynn) and a sophomore hit the game-winner (Parham). The Clippers are the favorites to win the title this year, and with their young nucleus and a great coach in Mulvey they could win the next 3 titles in D-II. The Clippers used to be D-I in all sports, and their football team moved back up to D-I this past season (and still made the playoffs). This all begs the question, if Portsmouth goes undefeated this season, will they petition back up to D-I next year?