GALLATIN The visiting Portland High School girls basketball team produced a season-best total offensively on Thursday evening, rolling to a 74-54 victory over Gallatin at Jerry Vradenburg Gymnasium.
The Lady Panthers’ full-court press forced several turnovers in the first half, leading to some transition baskets and a faster tempo.
“It makes it a lot easier, because we have a bunch of momentum going,” Portland senior guard Erica Keen said of the turnovers. “Playing fast get us going.”
Keen scored her squad’s first five points, and though the Lady Wave was still within a point after senior Anastasia Blakemore made a 15-foot jump shot with 2:49 left in the first quarter, the Lady Panthers scored the next 11 points. All five Portland starters – Keen, sophomore point guard Rachel Jennings, senior guard Cristina Herrera, senior guard Al Chatmon and junior forward Mackenzie Trouten – all contributed during the surge.
“It was huge for us,” Lady Panther head coach Miranda Cravens said of the strong start. “Gallatin has a couple of really good offensive players. Getting some turnovers and some easy baskets helped.”
The margin swelled to as much as 16 points on Trouten’s 3-pointer midway through the second stanza.
“We can’t stay away from that bad five minutes,” Gallatin head coach Malcolm Montgomery said. “We’re trying to learn from it. I think we are. It’s going to help us in the long run.
“We are competing. We are playing hard. Hopefully, some good fortune can happen for us soon.”
Portland sophomore forward Taylor Cole came off the bench to sink a 3-pointer late in the third quarter to create a 23-point margin.
Herrera led five Lady Panthers who scored in double figures with 17 points, followed by Trouten (16), Jennings (15), Chatmon (11) and Keen (11).
It was the most points that Portland has scored since an 80-31 win at White House last February.
Lady Wave senior point guard Rene’ Hudson scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the second half, and junior backcourt mate Savannah Link provided 11 points.
“When you play against the Wilson Centrals, they are really good,” Montgomery said. “Portland is similar to us. Portland, Beech, Station Camp and Lebanon are all right there together.
“You want to play better. You want to win. Right now, we want to be competitive, but the girls are not giving up. I’m not going to give up. We just have to play until the final horn.”
Gallatin fell to 5-11 overall and to 0-8 in District 9-AAA play, while the Lady Panthers improved to 11-9 overall and to 4-4 against 9-AAA competition. Portland is one of four teams – along with Beech, Hendersonville and Station Camp – within a game of each other in the third through sixth positions in the district standings.
“We’re definitely wanting to finish in the top half,” Keen – whose squad captured a 60-39 win over visiting Gallatin on Dec. 4 – said. “It’s going to take everybody doing their part. It’s (going to take) teamwork and putting what we learn in practice together, trying to stay as consistent as possible.”
Cravens added, “(District positioning) has been on my mind, but for the players, we just talk about it from game to game. We just prepare for each opponent. Every win in this district is vital. You could flip a coin from night to night to see who is going to win in this district.”
The Lady Panthers host Station Camp on Tuesday evening, while the Lady Wave play at Mt. Juliet.
Reach Craig Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 615-575-7138. Follow him on Twitter @HarrisGNESports.
PORTLAND (74) – Cristina Herrera 17, Mackenzie Trouten 16, Rachel Jennings 15, Al Chatmon 11, Erica Keen 11, Taylor Cole 3, McKenzie Fletcher 1.
GALLATIN (54) – Rene’ Hudson 21, Savannah Link 11, Sha’Mari Johnson 5, Grace Pincock 5, Andrea McDowell 4, Anastasia Blakemore 2, LaMonica Mintlow 2, Grayson Pryor 2, Katie Whitefield 2.
Half: 37-22, Portland. Three-point goals: Portland 6 (Herrera 2, Cole 1, Jennings 1, Keen 1, Trouten 1), Gallatin 5 (Hudson 2, Johnson 1, Link 1, Pincock 1). Records: Portland 11-9 overall, 4-4 in District 9-AAA; Gallatin 5-12, 0-8.