HENDERSONVILLE The Portland High girls basketball team didn’t like a slower pace, so the visiting Lady Panthers decided to do something about it in the second half.
Portland outscored Pope John Paul II High by a 32-14 margin in the second half of the two teams’ PJP II Christmas Classic opener to collect a 50-29 victory on Monday afternoon.
After a first half that saw the Lady Panthers (5-4) hold an 18-15 lead at halftime, Portland jumped ahead quickly to begin the third quarter thanks to 3-pointers from senior Cristina Herrera and sophomore Rachel Jennings over the first 1:12 of the third quarter. Portland took a 24-15 lead at that point, and the Lady Panthers never looked back, holding a 16-6 edge in the third quarter.
“We were ready to play,” Lady Panther senior guard Erica Keen said. “I don’t really know how else to explain it.”
The Lady Knights (3-8) kept things close in the first half while Herrera and junior forward Mackenzie Trouten were on the Portland bench due to foul trouble during the second quarter.
“I had my two leading scorers back on the floor after foul trouble,” Portland head coach Miranda Cravens said. “Cristina and Mackenzie both being out in the second quarter hurt us in scoring ability.”
The PJP II zone defense helped keep Portland contained, especially in the second quarter, when the Lady Knights held Portland to five points.
“We tried to really get a hand up on their shooters and pack it inside on (Trouten), because she’s a really strong post player,” Pope John Paul II first-year head coach Angi Puckett said.
However, Herrera – who scored a game-high 15 points – and the rest of the Lady Panthers caught on and made the adjustment to beat the Lady Knights’ zone in the third quarter.
“We got more adjusted to their zone (defense),” Cravens said. “We were scoring a lot easier, plus we picked up the pressure full-court in the third quarter, and we got some easy stuff off of that.”
The faster pace played right into Portland’s hands as the Lady Panthers opened up a 34-21 lead after the third quarter.
“We like playing a fast pace,” Keen said. “That’s our game really.”
Senior forward Windee Johnson led the Lady Knights offensively with eight points, but PJP II fell victim to Portland’s pressure.
“We have to value the importance of taking care of the basketball,” Puckett said. “We had a lot of unforced turnovers that led to easy transition buckets for (Portland), and that really hurt us in the third quarter.”
It was the second meeting of the season between the two teams. Portland opened the season with a 52-37 victory over the visiting Lady Knights on Nov. 17.
>> The Lady Panthers outscored Nashville Central Christian by a 22-10 margin in the fourth quarter to come away with a 54-39 victory on Tuesday morning.
Portland trailed 11-9 after one quarter before taking a 19-14 lead at halftime. The Lady Panthers led 32-29 entering the final period.
Twenty of the Lady Panthers’ 22 points in the fourth quarter came from the free-throw line, where Portland made all but two of their foul shots.
Senior Alyssa Chatmon led the Lady Panthers with 15 points, followed by Keen (12), Trouten (11), Herrera (10), sophomore Taylor Cole (4) and Jennings (2).
Rachel Fettiq led the Lady Warriors with 12 points.
Portland is slated to face Harpeth Hall in the opening game of the Sonic Shoot-Out at White County High School on Monday, while the Lady Knights face Ezell-Harding at Goodpasture’s Cougar Christmas Classic on Monday.
Reach Chris Brooks at email@example.com or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.
PORTLAND (50) – Cristina Herrera 15, Mackenzie Trouten 9, Alyssa Chatmon 7, Taylor Cole 7, Rachel Jennings 7, Emily Brown 5.
POPE JOHN PAUL II (29) – Windee Johnson 8, Miranda Smith 7, Callie Ryan 6, Mercedes Smith 5, Emily Galluzzi 2, Alison Gerstner 1.
Half: 18-15, Portland. Three-point goals: Portland 4 (Herrera 2, Cole 1, Jennings 1), Pope John Paul II 1 (Mercedes Smith 1). Records: Portland 5-4, Pope John Paul II 3-8.