Justin Zukowski of Portland, left, holds his ground and takes a charge from Kyle Wright of Bonny Eagle during Portland’s 55-52 victory Tuesday night at the Portland Expo. Matt Talbot of Portland goes for a blocked shot from behind.
By MARK JEANNERET Special to the Press Herald
PORTLAND - Nate Smart scored 16 points Tuesday night to lead Portland to a 55-52 victory against Bonny Eagle in a Western Class A schoolboy basketball game at the Portland Expo.
Smart had a major impact on the game between two teams that were unbeaten through their first three games.
The final 3-1/2 minutes featured three ties and five lead changes with Smart, a 6-foot-3 forward, making a difference with six points down the stretch.
"I missed a couple of shots early in the game but I always feel confident taking those shots," Smart said of two short jumpers he made in the closing moments.
"Nate Smart had a nice all-around game tonight," said Portland Coach Joe Russo.
"He got his boards and hit some big shots. They seemed to leave him open on a couple of curl-arounds and he had to make them. Then he had to step to the foul line to make a couple. He had a big game tonight."
The fourth quarter started when Matt Talbot scored in the opening moments to give Portland (4-0) a 37-32 lead.
It proved to be short-lived because Dustin Cole scored seven straight points for the Scots (3-1), fueling a 10-2 run that put Bonny Eagle ahead 42-39.
Portland pulled within 47-45 when Smart scored the first two of his six fourth-quarter points.
A steal by Jayvon Pitts-Young at midcourt on the ensuing possession followed by an intentional foul called against Cole on Pitts-Young led to two free throws that made it 47-47 with Portland maintaining possession.
"I think we had them down the stretch," said Bonny Eagle Coach Phil Bourassa. "We had them where we wanted them but then the mysterious intentional foul. This is high school varsity basketball. That's not the right call."
Still, Bonny Eagle managed to hold onto a one-point lead with 54.2 seconds remaining.
Smart then put Portland ahead for good with another short jumper for a 53-52 advantage.
Down 55-52, the Scots had two chances to tie in the final 13 seconds.
The first opportunity resulted in a missed 3-pointer. The Scots go the ball back but were unable to connect on an inbounds play from the Portland baseline with 0.3 seconds remaining.
"We didn't play great tonight but we know what we have to work on now because that was the first team that really challenged us this season," said Smart.
"We learned that we are beatable. We have some flaws. Our fast break was terrible. They were significantly smaller than us but I think they outrebounded us. We can be scary but we still have a lot to work on. We have a long way to go before the playoffs."
Portland held a 20-19 advantage at halftime.
Pitts-Young and Talbot added 10 points each for Portland. Cole finished with a game-high 22 points for the Scots.Tweet
Dustin Cole, who scored a game-high 22 points Tuesday night for Bonny Eagle, heads to the basket ahead of Nick Volger of Portland at the Expo. Portland reached 4-0 with a 55-52 victory, handing the Scots their first setback.
Jayvon Pitts-Young, who scored 10 points for Portland, finds the path to the basket ahead of Ben Malloy of Bonny Eagle.