(Photo by Josh Mills, Staff)
PORTAGEVILLE -- The home opener for the Portageville Bulldog basketball team was a success Friday evening as they defeated the visiting Richland Rebels 75-53. For the Bulldogs, it was a team effort that put away the Rebels from the opening tip.
Head coach Jim Bidewell said his Portageville squad handled the Richland defensive pressure well for four quarters.
"Our kids are all seniors for the most part," Bidewell said. "They should be able to handle pressure situations. I thought the kids played hard."
Byron Wright got things started for the home team as he cashed in for two points to put Portageville on the board first, then he followed up with an explosive dunk seconds later only to be whistled for a traveling violation erasing the bucket. Wright didn't give up however, and on the next offensive possession for the Bulldogs he threw down a two-handed dunk to electrify the home crowd. He finished the game with 18 points and a handful of steals, assists and rebounds.
Richland fell behind in the first quarter 24-12 and head coach Casey Knight attributed the Rebels' poor first half play to first game jitters as well as their mental preparation.
"We came out and I don't think mentally we were prepared to play the game," said Knight. "You know when you come in and play Portageville that they're going to play physical. They're going to get up and defend you well and they're going to shoot, hollar and (follow). That's what I call it because they shoot it and crash the boards."
The Rebels gave up just eight offensive rebounds in the first half, but Portageville capitalized each chance they got and at the break they led 42-29.
"We hurt ourselves," Knight said. "We had 16 first half turnovers, and it was like every time we did something good then we followed it up with something bad. We never strung the good runs together."
The second half was closer as far as score was concerned, but the Bulldogs held firm to their lead, countering each scoring run that the Rebels threw their way. Dometric Treadwell scored eight of his 16 points in the second half to aid the Portageville victory.
Leading the way offensively for the Bulldogs was Donnell Minnis. The Portageville senior had 22 points and eight rebounds and was 7-for-10 at the charity stripe.
On the flip side, Drew Thornton led the Rebels with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Next in line in the scoring column was Ryan Kleffer with 11.
"We're making a few mental mistakes like every team does early in the year, but I felt like our effort was good," Bidewell said. "If they continue with the good effort then good things will happen. Of course it's easy to play in front of your home crowd, but I'm pleased."
Despite losing the season opener, Knight said he was pretty pleased with his squad's season debut.
"I told the guys that we had to contain penetration, box out and limit their shot opportunities," said Knight. "I think we did an okay job with that."
Portageville (1-0) will host Kelly on Tuesday evening while Richland (0-1) will have their home opener against Campbell. Both games are scheduled to begin junior varsity action at 6 p.m.