PORTSMOUTH — Tim Hopley figured his Portsmouth High School girls basketball team already had its hands full in trying to defeat Salem, and it got even tougher with senior center Abbe Laurence battling foul trouble all of Friday night.
No problem, because the rest of the Clippers were ready to pick up the slack.
Portsmouth used key contributions from all nine players who saw action and played inspired defense throughout in its 35-30 Division I victory at Stone Gymnasium. Junior forward Corinne Lamond led Portsmouth with 13 points and seven rebounds.
“Salem is too good, they’re too well-coached, they’re too physical, they shot it too well, and anything less than the effort that our girls gave tonight wasn’t going to be enough,” Hopley said. “That’s just a credit to our girls. They did what we asked them to do and they understood the threats on the court.”
Laurence (six points) picked up her second foul with five minutes left in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the first half with Portsmouth trailing 13-11. Salem (6-2) led 16-13 following a Stella Hazelton 3-pointer, but the Blue Devils wouldn’t score again for a nine-minute stretch that extended into the third quarter.
Portsmouth senior point guard Arianna Hebert took over the end of the second quarter with a pair of successful drives, followed by a steal and conversion to give the Clippers a 19-16 halftime lead.
“I think our defense won this game for us, and I think from the start we came out with a ton of intensity," Hebert said. "We talked to each other and hyped each other up and got everyone ready for this game and it really showed in our defense. We know how to play when Abbe is in foul trouble. We have Corinne and we have other players we can get the ball to.”
Laurence picked up her third foul with 5:45 left in the third quarter and sat out the remainder of the frame, but the Clippers’ lead expanded to 23-16 after Hebert’s off-balance pass to Brittany Graham for a baseline jumper.
After Jordyn Franzen broke Salem’s scoring drought with 2:18 left in the third, Christine Aboujaoude (12 points) followed with a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 24-21. Reilly Velez provided the response for Portsmouth with a hoop and a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in the quarter off an assist from Graham to give Portsmouth a 29-21 lead entering the fourth.
“That’s one of the things not having Corinne and Abbe at the start of the year, as painful as it was at times, it also forced us to create some depth,” Hopley said. “You look at Anna Smith, Katey McCafferty, Reilly Velez and Livi Kozick. Those are the four that came off the bench tonight and they all played well, and we know if we need to go deeper there is more there.”
Aboujaoude and Franzen opened the fourth quarter with 3-pointers, but Laurence, back in the game, converted a spin move to give the Clippers a 31-27 lead. Laurence left the game again after picking up her fourth foul with 4:33 remaining.
Salem shot 3-for-13 from the floor in the fourth and couldn’t put a dent in the lead. Laurence made another return by finishing off a feed from Velez to give Portsmouth a 33-27 lead with 1:51 left in regulation.
“We had a rough night shooting,” Salem coach Ricky Oliver said. “They’re big, they can rebound and we had to be on-point. We had to knock down our shots. But we still had a shot. Nine minutes without scoring and we were still in the basketball game.”
Portsmouth rebounded from Tuesday’s narrow 40-38 loss at Manchester Memorial, and it’ll reach the midway point in its first season back in Division I at Manchester Central (5-1) next Tuesday.
“These are all new opponents we’re facing, and we're taking every single game as a new step to define who we are in this new division,” Lamond said.
CLIPPERS 35, BLUE DEVILS 30
Aboujaoude 4-0-12, Franzen 2-2-7, Saif 0-0-0, Doucette 0-0-0, Emerson 2-0-5, Hazelton 1-0-3, Boucher 1-0-3, Rivera 0-0-0. Totals: 10-2-30.
Lamond 6-1-13, Karlin 0-0-0, Laurence 3-0-6, Hebert 3-0-6, Graham 2-0-5, Velez 2-0-5, A. Smith 0-0-0, McCafferty 0-0-0, Kozick 0-0-0. Totals: 16-1-35.
Salem 8 8 5 9—30
Portsmouth 7 12 10 6—35
3-Point Goals—Salem 8 (Aboujaoude 4, Boucher, Emerson, Hazelton), Portsmouth 2 (Velez, Graham). Fouled out—Laurence.