The 2018-2019 Portsmouth Trojans will return only 1 starter from last year’s 16-8 team, that being 6-2 JR Matthew Fraulini. Fraulini averaged 14 PPG as a sophomore, and looks to upgrade his PPG average this season. He will have 4 new starters to help him do that. The rest of the starting 5 most likely will be 6-3 SR MyQuel McKinley, 6-0 SR Daniel Lattimore, 6-2 SO Miles Shipp, and 5-8 FR Amare Johnson. This starting 5 could very well be the quickest starting unit in Coach Eugene Collins 10 years as head coach of PHS. Collins will be trying to get the Trojans to play as much uptempo as possible, given their ability to get up and down the court. From an athletic standpoint, PHS will be able to match any opponent, but with 4 new starters, inexperience may show early in the season. Scoring to support Fraulini will be important, as opposing coaches will try to concentrate on minimizing his impact on the scoreboard.
The Trojans should get some good minutes from 6-6 SR Andrew Meadows, who has improved a great deal from his play on the JV team last season. 6-2 junior Richie Bowman also has shown improvement and will be counted on for support at the 2 or 3 position. A key contributor could be 6-1 FR Dariyonne Bryant, who is recovering from a football injury and might be ready to play in early December. 5-10 JR Eli Johnson, 6-4 SR Gage Rhodes, 5-9 JR Jack Workman, 6-3 JR Brandon Clark, and 5-10 JR Caden Davis will be counted on for support in some role. Michael Duncan, a 6-1 SO, suffered a season ending football injury and will not play this season. The Trojans should have some good quickness coming off the bench, and with Meadows size and improvement, the Trojans will be more formidable on defense in the paint.
With so many new starters, the Trojans will take time to jell as a unit. This could hurt them in the win column early in the season, but with their overall quickness and athleticism, could result in them coming together sooner than later. The biggest challenge early on will be on the offensive end, as Fraulini is the only proven scorer. Finding at least a couple others who can score 10+ points on a given night is uncertain at this point. Johnson should start out as the PG, and his energy and motor makes him fun to watch, and hopefully will be contagious to the rest of the team. One asset that PHS possesses this season in contrast to years past is that there is much more size on the roster. 7 players on the roster are 6-2 or taller.
In OVC play, Gallia Academy is the prohibitive favorite, but after that is a toss up from spots 2-8. Only Fairland, which lost all 5 starters, lost more of their starting lineup than did Portsmouth. The Trojans, though, should field a team in which no one, even Gallia Academy, will be more athletic. Portsmouth could find themselves in the top 3 of the OVC if they can jell quickly, or they could fall to the middle of the pack if they struggle, especially on offense. The non-conference schedule features some winnable games, including Green, Huntington St.Joe, Western Pike, South Webster, Wheelersburg, Minford, and Southeastern Ross (at Piketon Tournament Dec.1st 4:30 PM).
Predicting a record with so many new players makes it very difficult, but I’m going with 14-8 for the 2018-2019 Trojans. Could be a game or two better or worse, as this team is hard to gauge at this point. Their quickness/ athleticism will make PHS a team that could find itself playing its best basketball as the tournament approaches. A berth in the district is very possible, and a district championship is not out of the question. It is always hard to completely eliminate Portsmouth from that possibility. Wheelersburg and Eastern Pike look to be the 2 favorites in the D3 district.
Coach Eugene Collins enters his 10th season at PHS with an overall record of 155-64, with 5 sectional titles, 3 district titles, 2 regional titles, a regional runnerup, back to back Final 4’s in 2011 and 2012, and a D3 state runnerup finish in 2012. Portsmouth is the last school from the SE district to win a game in the state tournament, that being a 74-66 win over Ottawa-Glandorf in the 2012 semifinals. PHS’s all time record stands at 1,450-767, which is 8th on the all time win list in Ohio (out of 800 high schools). The Trojans’ 27 state tournament games rank 3rd all time in Ohio, their 16 wins in the state tournament is 3rd all time in Ohio, their 4 state championships is 6th all time in Ohio, and their 8 state championship game appearances are 5th all time in Ohio.
The 2018-2019 Trojans should be fun to watch, and as the season progresses, this team should get better and better. GO TROJANS!!