Despite losing most of its roster from the 1979 21-1 team, Coach Dick Hopkins put together a team that may have been the most overachieving team in PHS history. Great chemistry made this team what it became, a team that surprised many Trojan fans with its outstanding tournament run. After a 6-5 start, PHS strung together 15 straight wins to finish 21-6 and Class AA state runnerup. They were led by the dynamic guard tandem of Marcus Bendolph and Kirk McMahon, with the frontline consisting of Keith Wilburn, John Mitchell, and Troy Jackson. Kevin Wilburn was a major sub off the bench., as was Larry Johnson.
PHS started the regular season with a 61-59 home loss to Russell KY. The Trojans did beat Ironton 56-50, but one of the losses was 62-50 at Waverly, a match between two teams that would meet in the regional final. In the tournament, the sectional proved to be very tough as the Trojans barely got by Chesapeake 50-47 and Rock Hill 69-65. Sheridan was an easy opponent in the district, as PHS clobbered the Generals 81-46. Portsmouth then suprised a favored Columbus Centennial squad 57-51 in the regional semis, then advanced to play Waverly for the second time. In this regional final game, Marcus Bendolph put the Trojans ahead 49-48, then PHS had to survive a last second missed shot by Waverly’s Rick Teeters from the top of the key.
Portsmouth shocked the basketball world by beating #1 Willard in the state semifinals 65-53, holding high scoring John Willoughby down while Marcus Bendolph led PHS with 21 points. Hamilton Ross scored with just 30 seconds to play in the state championship game to win 45-44, and Bendolph once again led PHS with 16 points.
Individual scoring for PHS in the 1980 state tournament:
Portsmouth 65, Willard 53: Bendolph 21, McMahon 19, Jackson 11, Keith Wilburn 8, John Mitchell 6
Hamilton Ross 45, Portsmouth 44: Bendolph 16, McMahon 12, Mitchell 2, Jackson 8, Keith Wilburn 6
Bendolph is the only Trojan ever to have led Portsmouth in scoring in both state tournament games.