By TODD LAMBERTH
The Hendersonville boys basketball team earned their third win in district play with a 73-69 comeback win at Portland on Friday night.
Things played out evenly throughout the game, with neither team holding more than an eight point lead.
“That was a great basketball game and we’re lucky to have come out on top,” Hendersonville coach Clancy Hall said.
Both teams came out strong, shooting over 50 percent from the field in the opening frame. Portland held a 17-16 lead, however, thanks to eight quick points from Grant Cook.
The Commandos came out firing in the second quarter, going on a 5-0 run to take a 21-17 lead a minute into the quarter. Portland answered behind a pair of threes from Austin Hicks, outscoring Hendersonville 16-7 the rest of the quarter to take a 33-28 into the half. The five-point margin was the largest lead for either side in the first half.
The Panther lead grew to six before Hendersonville rallied back to tie things at 39 midway through the third quarter. The Commandos went on a 10-2 run at that point to build an eight-point lead, punctuated by a Zach Morris three ball with three minutes left in the frame.
It was Portland’s turn to rally at that point, as they finished the third quarter on a 7-0 run to limit Hendersonville to a one-point lead going into the final quarter of play.
The two teams traded baskets to start the fourth quarter as things were tied at 59 with just under five minutes to play. Hendersonville was able to take control from there, building a 68-61 lead with a 1:40 left to play. Portland was able to get things with two with 30 seconds left to play, but Noah Taylor was able to knock down three free throws to seal the 73-69 win for Hendersonville.
While his Commandos led for much of the second half, Coach Hall was quick to give Portland credit for the way they played down the stretch.
“Portland deserves the credit in that,” Hall said. “We talked about we have a defense that we run when we’re up by three or more, but Portland made those plays. Portland made the jump shots, Portland got the offensive rebounds, Portland made the free throws, so you have to give them credit.”
Taylor led all scorers in the game with 26 points, going seven of 10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Morris followed him with 20 behind his four three-pointers. Cooper Smith (15), Noah Owens (5), Drew Hohenbrink (3), Cam Stevens (2), and Vaughn Baldwin (2) rounded out the scoring for Hendersonville.
Portland was led by Cook with 17 points. Austin Hicks followed him with 14 points, going four of six from three. Bryce Keith (12), Darius Bell (11), Peyton Martin (7), Mitchell Eagle (4), and Luke Jones (3) also contributed to the offense.
Hendersonville continues district play on Tuesday night as they host Mt. Juliet. Portland will look to bounce back on Saturday as they have a quick turnaround and travel to Greenbrier.