PORTLAND The Portland High School girls basketball players received a bit of an attitude adjustment at halftime on Tuesday evening.
It seemed to pay dividends in the second half as the Lady Panthers pulled away en route to a 67-40 victory over visiting White House.
“It was intensity,” Portland second-year head coach Miranda Cravens said of her squad’s first-half issues. “I came in the locker room and yelled at them. I wanted some fire. We had no pep in our step. We were missing wide-open layups, because we didn’t have any intensity.”
The Lady Panthers (2-2) led by just four points at halftime.
“She got on to us,” Portland sophomore forward Taylor Cole said. “I really didn’t want to have a bad practice (on Wednesday). I said, ‘let’s kick it into gear. Let’s run now instead of tomorrow.’”
Cole found her highest gear so far, coming off of the bench to score a career-high 11 points.
“She wants me to pick the team up,” Cole said. “I want to score, to make a difference, to pick the team up.”
Cravens added, “She had a really great game. We been needing that from her. I’ve known she had it in her. She can do that for you.”
Despite being in foul trouble for much of the contest, junior teammate Mackenzie Trouten also produced a career-high point total, pouring in 22 points.
“They came out in the third quarter and best us to the ball,” Lady Devil head coach Jeff Bennett said. “The 3-pointer the big girl (Cole) hit broke our backs, and (Trouten) played really well in the last quarter.
“They got more offensive rebounds. They picked up loose balls. They did a good job.”
White House (0-4) scored the final seven points of the first quarter, with sophomore McKenzie Vaughn converting a short, turnaround jump shot in the lane to give her squad a 13-11 lead.
The game’s sixth and final tie came at 22-22 when Lady Devil junior forward Bailey Hutchison sank a free throw with 3:07 remaining in the first half, but Cole drove down the lane and converted a runner before senior teammate Al Chatmon converted on an offensive putback. Those baskets gave the Lady Panthers a 26-22 lead at halftime.
“We tried to escape a little foul trouble,” Bennett said. “We were only down four with people sitting on the bench.
“(Junior forward Hailee) Ellis played really well for us. I thought she held us in with (senior guard Lauren) Felts in foul trouble.”
Baskets by Trouten and senior Cristina Herrera were followed by sophomore Rachel Jennings’ free throw to open the second half, quickly extending the lead to nine points.
The margin was 11 points (43-32) entering the fourth quarter, and Portland (2-2) scored 16 of the first 19 points in the fourth quarter to create a 24-point margin. Trouten provided 10 points during that surge.
In addition to Trouten and Cole’s production, Chatmon scored 16 points.
“It was White House, a rival of course,” Cole said. “I wanted to make a difference.
“It’s a very big deal. We have the (Beat White House) T-shirts. Last year, we beat them 80 to 30-something (80-31). We wanted to keep that going. We beat them in football this year. We wanted to keep the streak going.”
Ellis and senior point guard Alyssa Armstrong scored eight points each for the Lady Devils, and junior teammate Stephanie Palmer provided seven points.
Portland opens district play by hosting Gallatin on Friday evening.
White House hosts Springfield on Saturday evening before traveling across town for its district opener next Tuesday, facing rival White House Heritage.
Reach Craig Harris at email@example.com or at 615-575-7138. Follow him on Twitter @HarrisGNESports.
WHITE HOUSE (40) – Alyssa Armstrong 8, Hailee Ellis 8, Stephanie Palmer 7, Lauren Felts 6, Bailey Hutchison 6, McKenzie Vaughn 3, Bryanna Allen 2.
PORTLAND (67) – Mackenzie Trouten 22, Al Chatmon 16, Taylor Cole 11, Cristina Herrera 8, Rachel Jennings 5, McKenzie Fletcher 3, Erica Keen 2.
Half: 26-22, Portland. Three-point goals: White House 0, Portland 2 (Cole 1, Trouten 1). Records: White House 0-4, Portland 2-2.