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Trojans escape Pointers in sectional finals, 65-64

South Point's Blake Barnes leaps as he hits a jumper for two of his 25 points. The Pointers upset bid fell short as they lost 65-64 to Portsmouth Saturday in the sectional finals. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

JACKSON — It was an amazing 32 minutes. It was an unbelievable final two seconds.

In an eventful game capped by a confusing and exciting finish, the heavily favored Portsmouth Trojans held off the South Point Pointers 65-64 on Saturday in the Division III sectional finals.

Portsmouth was clinging to a 64-60 lead when Blake Barnes hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left that got the Pointers within a point. South Point coach Chris Barnes called a timeout he knew he didn’t have and was assessed a technical.

Barnes said he used the strategy five years ago in a game in Columbus to stop the clock and try to get the ball back.

“We rolled the dice. What did we have to lose?” Barnes asked rhetorically.

Wayne Evans hit the first of two technical free throws to put the Trojans up 65-63, but on the inbounds play Portsmouth was called for a technical foul for shoving a South Point player.

Brandon Barnes — who had made 20 straight foul shots — hit the first of two technical free throws but the second bounced off the front of the rim and it was 65-64.

“We put a freshman at the line but he had made 20 free throws straight and everyone on the bench was saying they wanted him. One free throw didn’t decide this game,” said coach Barnes.

With two seconds still on the clock, the Pointers inbounded the ball but Blake Barnes’ 3-point goal attempt hit off the rim as the horn sounded.

While Portsmouth let out a sigh of relief, coach Barnes could do nothing but praise his team’s effort.

“If I had said we get the ball and need one or two possessions with a chance to win the game, our whole student body would have said, ‘I’ll take it.’ There are no negatives. We played as hard as we could play,” said coach Barnes.

“I’m proud as can be. It was a great way for our seniors to go out. We won six of our last eight and the two losses were to Chesapeake who is second ranked and Portsmouth who is 10th ranked and we go to the wire.”

Blake Barnes scored 25 points including five 3-pointers in his final game to go with four rebounds, five assists and three steals. Senior Kyle Winkler had eight points, five rebounds and two assists before fouling out with 2:42 to play.

Senior Tevin Mitchell had 12 points and three steals while senior Mike Leighty grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds. Brandon Barnes added 10 points and five rebounds.

Portsmouth (17-4) was led by 6-foot-6 Dion McKinley with 28 points and 16 rebounds. Wayne Evans scored 18, Andrew Bendolph had 15 points and 6-5 Tre Underwood added 12 rebounds.

The taller Trojans dominated the boards 48-31 as the Pointers were forced to counter the size difference by shooting 42 3-pointers.

‘I didn’t care how many 3’s we shot. It was our only chance against their size. I didn’t mind as long as they were open,” said coach Barnes.

Portsmouth threatened to break the game open in the first half. After leading 21-13 at the end of the first quarter, McKinley’s basket to start the second quarter pushed the lead to 23-13.

But the Pointers rallied as Mitchell hit two straight baskets and Blake Barnes drilled a trifect to give the Pointers a 29-27 lead with 1:08 on the clock. McKinley’s putback tied the game 29-29 at the half.

There were four lead changes in the third quarter with the Trojans going up 43-40 at the end of the quarter.

Portsmouth went up 53-46 on a layup by McKinley with 2:42 left. South Point didn’t quit as Mitchell and Brandon Barnes made triples and Leighty sank two foul shots to trail 56-54 with 1:23 left and set up the thrilling finish.

South Point 13 16 11 24 = 64

Portsmouth 21 8 14 22 = 65

SOUTH POINT (12-10) Tevin Mitchell 3 2 0-0 12, Austin Jeffreys 0 1 0-0 3, Blake Barnes 4 5 2-4 25, Kyle Winkler 2 1 1-1 8, Brandon Barnes 0 3 1-2 10, Mike Leighty 2 0 2-2 6. Totals: 23-63 6-9 64. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: Winkler (4th 2:42). 3-point goals: 12-42. Rebounds: 11offense, 20 defense = 31 (Leighty 11, Winkler 5, Br. Barnes 5, Bl. Barnes 4). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 9 (Bl. Barnes 5, Winkler 2). Steals: 7 (Mitchell 3, Bl. Barnes 3). Turnovers: 8.

PORTSMOUTH (17-4): Zaide Whitley 0 1 0-0 3, Andrew Bendolph 5 1 2-4 15, Wayne Evans 0 2 12-16 18, Dion McKinley 12 0 4-8 28, Tre Underwood 0 0 1-3 1, Seth Bratchett 0 0 0-0 0, Len Collins 0 0 0-0 0, Mason Jordan 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-50 19-31 65. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 4-20. Rebounds: 17 offense, 31 defense = 48 (McKinley 16, Underwood 12). Team rebounds: 5. Assists: 7 (Evans 3, Underwood 2, Bendolph 2). Steals: None. Turnovers: 15.