PORTLAND Cristina Herrera found her shooting touch in warm-ups.
The Portland High senior carried it over to Tuesday evening’s contest against visiting Beech as well, scoring 22 points in the Lady Panthers’ 60-37 victory.
Herrera hit four of Portland’s seven 3-pointers in the District 9-AAA battle.
“I was shooting well in practice,” Herrera said. “It just kind of carried over to the game.”
The Lady Panthers (8-8 overall, 2-3 in District 9-AAA) jumped out to an 11-0 lead over the game’s first 4:30, getting four points from both junior Mackenzie Trouten and senior Alyssa Chatmon in addition to a 3-pointer from senior Erica Keen.
“That (early run) always gets us going,” Portland head coach Miranda Cravens said. “We got some stuff off of our (full-court) press. Our defense got us going too.”
Portland led 17-5 after the opening quarter and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
“It’s big for us,” Herrera said. “It really helps our confidence. I think we’re getting better every day, and it’s good for us to win like that.”
Trouten hit two 3-pointers in the contest as well and finished with 17 points.
“(Portland) shot it really well,” Beech interim head coach Troy Carnes said. “Even people who we weren’t sure could shoot it shot it well. I didn’t know (Trouten) could shoot it like that. (Keen) made a big one early. I knew (Herrera) could shoot it, but we let her get too many looks.”
Cravens added, “The past couple of games, we’ve shot the ball poorly … I’m talking like 20 or 30 percent. We had a good shooting night, and the kids play harder when they’re shooting well too. That’s kind of human nature.”
Senior guard Deja Smith led Beech (5-13, 2-3) with 11 points. The Lady Buccaneers pulled to within 10 points on a couple of occasions but were unable to cut Portland’s lead into single digits after the Lady Panthers’ opening run.
“We talked a lot about being the aggressor and coming out with intensity,” Carnes said. “It seems like we’re trying to do that, and we didn’t pull that off very well.”
Beech has now suffered five consecutive losses.
“We’ve got some soul-searching to do,” Carnes said. “We’ve got some decisions to make as a team, and I feel like we’re capable of being better than we’re playing.”
Portland broke a three-game losing streak with the victory.
“We’ve gotten smarter,” Cravens said. “We’re learning about what is and what isn’t a good shot. We’re taking better shots.”
Chatmon also reached double figures for the Lady Panthers, scoring 13 points.
Portland hit the 60-point mark for the fourth time this season, and the Lady Panthers are undefeated in those games.
Beech was held to less than 40 points for the 11th time this season, and the Lady Buccaneers hold a 1-10 record in those contests.
The two teams are slated to play each other at Beech on Feb. 5.
Beech travels to Lebanon on Friday, while Portland plays at Wilson Central.
Reach Chris Brooks at email@example.com or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.
BEECH (37) – Deja Smith 11, McCall Decker 6, Savannah Jarratt 6, Kendra Mueller 4, Reese Taylor 4, Joslyn Brinkley 2, Kennedy Powell 2, Destiny Tinker 2.
PORTLAND (60) – Cristina Herrera 22, Mackenzie Trouten 17, Alyssa Chatmon 13, Erica Keen 6, Rachel Jennings 2.
Half: 30-17, Portland. Three-point goals: Beech 2 (Decker 2), Portland 7 (Herrera 4, Trouten 2, Keen 1). Records: Beech 5-13 overall, 2-3 in District 9-AAA; Portland 8-8, 2-3.