Portland rolls to 3-0 after mauling Marshwood
PORTLAND—It's bad enough that opponents of the Portland boys' basketball team have to deal with the transcendent senior triumvirate of Jayvon Pitts-Young, Matt Talbot and Justin Zukowski.
So when someone like senior Travis Godbout starts lighting it up, you might as well accept that a 'L' will ensue.
That was the fate of the visiting Marshwood Hawks Saturday evening at the Portland Exposition Building.
The Bulldogs shot to an early 20-4 lead behind a smothering defense and hot shooting, paced by Godbout, who had 10 first quarter points. After a lackluster second period, Portland ended all doubt in the third period, which was highlighted by a rare four-point play from Godbout, and the Bulldogs never looked back, going on to a 65-40 victory.
Portland got 14 points apiece from Godbout and Pitts-Young, Talbot added a dozen and Zukowski finished with 10 as the Bulldogs improved to 3-0 on the young season, dropping the Hawks to 1-2 in the process.
"We had all-around balance," said longtime Portland coach Joe Russo. "We didn't overdo it. We controlled the tempo."
Portland, a semifinal round loser to South Portland last winter, came into the 2013-14 campaign viewed as a top contender and validated those lofty projections by winning at Massabesic (84-31) and Noble (66-54) to start the year, impressive results considering the Bulldogs were hindered early in the preseason by the absence of several players who were committed to football.
"The football players are getting their legs," Russo said. "They're getting in shape. Of the eight guys who play (a lot), four of them were football players. They got tired. It will take us a little longer this year. I usually get them before Thanksgiving a little bit, but this year, I didn't have them at all until the Friday after Thanksgiving."
Marshwood, which went 9-10 last winter, losing to Sanford in the preliminary round, fell at Gorham, 48-45, in the opener, then held off host Windham, 67-61.
Coming into Saturday's contest, Portland had won eight of the past 10 meetings, but the Bulldogs had lost two in a row prior to last year's 57-39 triumph at the Expo.
This time around, the Bulldogs controlled the game pretty much from start to finish.
It took a mere 13 seconds for the hosts to go on top to stay as Talbot made two free throws. Pitts-Young added a floater before Marshwood got on the board as senior Brady Innes made a layup. Portland junior Steve Alex scored on a putback, but Hawks sophomore Ryan O'Neil made two free throws to cut the deficit to 6-4.
But before the visitors knew what hit them, Portland had a commanding lead.
Godbout spearheaded a 14-0 run with his first 3. Pitts-Young added a putback, Zukowski hit a 3, Talbot set up Godbout for a 3 and with 3:59 left in the first quarter, Pitts-Young made a 3 to make it 20-4.
"We moved the ball and got in rhythm," Pitts-Young said. "We came out with a lot of confidence. Travis got hot, which was great for him. In practice, he's a scorer. He's come out and he's performed. Our press really helped us. Everybody worked hard."
After Marshwood snapped the surge on a 3-pointer from junior Drew Bartlett, Bartlett made a free throw and O'Neil added another to cut the deficit to 20-10.
After the Bulldogs got a free throw from senior Dan Kane, Bartlett knocked down a 3 to pull the Hawks within eight, 21-13, but Godbout made a layup off an inbounds pass and as time wound down, Godbout scored on a driving layup for a 25-13 advantage after eight highly successful minutes.
"I was just feeling it," Godbout said. "I came out hot. The ball came off my hand right. Everything was working. Guys were passing well and got me open looks. I'm getting a lot more minutes and a lot more opportunities. I expected it and knew I had to step up."
"We played excellent in the first quarter against their matchup zone," Russo said. "Travis had an excellent quarter. He's a pretty good shooter. I sensed they'd double team Matt on the block and they'd cover (Jayvon). Travis found open gaps. He's a smart kid and a smart player. What he gives up in physicality, he makes up for in his shooting and basketball savvy. We ran our offense to a tee. That set the tone. It gave us a cushion."
Portland's offense wasn't as effective in the second quarter, but the Bulldogs still managed to build on their lead.
After Kane scored on a driving layup, Innes answered with a layup. Zukowski made two foul shots, but Innes hit one. After Kane took a pass from Pitts-Young and made a transition layup, O'Neil made two free throws and Bartlett sank a 3 to cut the deficit to single digits, 31-22, but the last five points of the half went to the hosts.
First, Pitts-Young scored on a putback. Then, Zukowski sank a 3-ball with 6.1 seconds showing and Portland was on top, 36-22, at halftime.
Marshwood was hindered by 13 first half turnovers.
The Bulldogs extinguished any remaining doubt in the third period.
Pitts-Young got the half started with a driving layup. After Talbot stepped out and knocked down a 3, Hawks sophomore Baili Lontine-Kearson answered with a 3, but Talbot hit another 3, then added a layup to make it 46-25.
Innes made a layup for Marshwood, but Talbot set up for Alex for a layup to counter.
After junior Nicholas Dalecki made a layup for the Hawks, Godbout got the ball on the left wing, went up for a 3 and somehow knocked it down while being fouled before going to the line and adding the free throw to complete the rarely seen four-point play.
"I just caught the ball," said Godbout. "As soon as I let it go, I knew it was going in and I got hit. I was thinking I had to make (the free throw). I had to finish the four-point play."
After Dalecki answered with a free throw, Pitts-Young hit one. Sophomore Zachary Mitchell made a free throw and Bartlett hit a bank shot, but Pitts-Young hit a leaner in the final minute to put Portland on top, 53-33, after three quarters.
Talbot scored his final points, on a leaner, to start the fourth period. After Mitchell made a layup and Innes hit a free throw, Bulldogs sophomore Joe Esposito made a layup, Zukowski did the same, Kane drove for a layup and Esposito added a leaner for Portland's final points. A layup from junior Kyle Parmley and a bank shot by junior Noah McDaniel drew the Hawks back within 25 and brought the curtain down on the Bulldogs' impressive 65-40 victory.
Portland showed great balance offensively, as seven players scored.
Godbout and Pitts-Young both had 14 points, Talbot finished with 12, Zukowski 10, Kane seven and Alex and Esposito each had four.
Both teams ended up with 30 rebounds. Alex and Talbot both collected seven.
Portland had 12 steals, paced by four from Moss and three from Pitts-Young.
The Bulldogs forced 31 turnovers, while only giving the ball away on 14 occasions. They made 7-of-12 free throws.
Marshwood was led by Bartlett's 13 points. Innes had seven points, Lontine-Kearson and O'Neil both scored five, Dalecki and Mitchell each had three and McDaniel and Parmley both finished with two. Innes had a game-high nine rebounds.
The Hawks made 12-of-16 free throws, but were ultimately doomed by 31 turnovers.
Long way to go
Marshwood finally plays at home Tuesday, but faces a tough test from Bonny Eagle. The Hawks then host Biddeford and Massabesic to wrap up the 2013 portion of their schedule.
Portland is back in action Tuesday at Gorham, then welcomes South Portland in a playoff rematch Friday. The Bulldogs host Thornton Academy Dec. 23 and Cheverus Dec. 30.
This team promises to keep getting better.
"We have a lot of expectations, but we worry about what we have to do instead of what everybody else says we should do," Pitts-Young said. "Everything has to get better. We're not going to be satisfied until we reach our peak. We want to get to that last game."
"We're looking good, but we're not satisfied yet," said Godbout. "We have to keep getting better. Our goal is to score 85 points a game. We haven't gotten there yet. We went cold after the first quarter. We're looking forward to tougher competition. Hopefully we'll step up to the challenge."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
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