The 2019-2020 Portland High School girls’ basketball season, which included a CAAC White conference title and a district championship, ended on Tuesday night at Owosso. The Lady Raiders fell to the Eagles of Frankenmuth, 52-43.
Despite a bit of a slow start for the Raiders, trailing 5-0 in the first two minutes, and being down 13-2 with three minutes left in the first, the Portland squad would battle back to end the first quarter down 18-10.
Frankenmuth’s size and excellent rebounding would prevent Portland from getting many second chances on the offensive end of the court. The Eagle defense also did an excellent job of contesting just about every Portland pass and shot, but the Raiders were able to close the margin in the second quarter of play. The teams would head to halftime with Frankenmuth leading by only three points, 27-24.
The Raiders would take the court in the second half with a bit of spring in their step, and appeared to be more confident in themselves. After a long two-pointer by Alivia Densmore and three-pointer by Ava Guilford, the Raiders would claim their first lead of the game, 29-27, with 6:00 minutes remaining in the third. Both squads would battle for the remainder of the quarter, but Frankenmuth was able to escape the third with a narrow one-point lead, 35-34.
Despite a Raider defender contesting nearly every shot, with the inside threat of Frankenmuth freshman post player Lexi Boyke and outside shooter sophomore Zoey Persails, the Eagles were able to seal up the victory in the fourth quarter, outscoring Portland 17-9. The final score was Frankenmuth 52, Portland 43.
Frankenmuth was led by Boyke with 20 points, while Persails added 17 points including four three-pointers.
Portland was led by Ashley Bower with 16 points including one three-pointer. Guilford added 11 points with three threes. Alivia Densmore scored nine points, and Ava Gruber scored six points.
Scoring summary by quarter:
1st – 2nd – 3rd – 4th – Final
Portland 10 – 14 – 10 – 9 – 43
Frankenmuth 18 – 9 – 8 – 17 – 52
After the game, when asked about his teams’ performance, Raider head coach Jason Haid said, “We knew we had our hands full coming in, they are a tough match-up. They have a post that can drive it, finishes well and can handle the ball. They have two wings that are 5’ 9” or 5’ 10” that can shoot it or post you up. We got off to a terrible start, but we were able to make some adjustments and our girls fought back. I am proud of the way we fought back.”
Haid said, “I think we got down 10 early and our girls never wavered. They just believed in what we were trying to do and kept attacking the basket. We kept pressuring the ball. We went to a 1-3-1 zone in the second quarter and I thought it kind of threw them off a little bit. We were able to slow them down because they were able to score in a hurry. They were scoring in bunches to start the game off. They started with a three off the tip and it seemed like everything they threw up was going in. They were tough, we had to battle them on the boards. For the first time all year we were playing a team that was longer than us at every position.”
As a whole, Haid was extremely happy with his team's performance this season. “I am just proud if these girls. They have had an outstanding season. I am proud of each and every one of them. They got along so well this year. They won 20 games. Won a conference championship which we have not done in a while. They won the districts. We have everyone coming back. We can write a different script next year and reach maybe a little bit higher next year with some hard work in the off season. I am just proud of them.”
Any coach speaking with his or her team after ending the season on a loss knows that it can be an emotional moment. When asked what he told his girls after the game, Haid said, “We just talked about reaching a little bit higher next year. We accomplished some major goals for us. We had not won a conference championship in a while. We had not won a district in three years. They wanted that district bad. So, we accomplished that. Going into next year, I know what our girls want. Our girls want to get to that final venue. It is going to take a lot of hard work. We have the leadership to do it. I thought Ava Gruber had an outstanding year as our team captain. I know she is going to be on the girls to get them in the gym. To just keep improving. I love what I saw out of our young kids. Our sophomores. They really came in and played very aggressive this year, they grew very fast. Had you told me we were gong to win 20 at the beginning of the year, I thought that might have been a stretch. I thought there would be more of a learning curve, but they came in ready and hungry. We can do amazing things next year if we come in with that same hunger that we came in with this year.”
The Lady Raider final overall record was 20 wins and four losses.
Frankenmuth will face Freeland in the regional championship at Owosso on Thursday. The winner of that game will advance to the quarter final hosted at Houghton Lake, and will face the winner of Sault Ste. Marie and Cadillac.
Photos by AJ Guilford.