Portsmouth, Va., April 6 -- Sometimes one great half of basketball is enough to capture the win. That was the case in the championship game of the 50th annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, won by the Portsmouth Sports Club, 77-71, over MD Design Saturday evening at Churchland High School.
Reggie Evans of Iowa led a balanced attack of five double-figure scorers for the winners with 16 points while Jason Capel of North Carolina ripped down a game-high 16 rebounds.
The Portsmouth Sports Club surged to a 51-29 halftime lead behind 53 percent field goal shooting and tough, aggressive defense. In the second half, PSC went cold and MD Design mounted several spirited challenges but was unable to duplicate its miracle comeback of Thursday night, when the team wiped out a 23-point deficit and rallied for an unlikely two-point win.
In the first half, the Portsmouth Sports Club jumped out to a 10-2 lead behind four points each from Evans and Adam Hall of Virginia. The lead mushroomed quickly and surpassed 20 points when Evans converted a three-point play to give PSC a 44-23 lead with 3:38 remaining. MD Design went into the locker room in arrears by 22 points at 51-29.
Aaron McGhee of Oklahoma, voted Most Valuable Player of the PIT after averaging tournament highs of 22.3 points and 12.7 rebounds, carried MD Design back into the game. MD Design roared into the second half with an 11-1 run, highlighted by six points from McGhee and five from Gerrod Henderson Louisiana Tech (12 points). That spurt cut the lead to 52-40, but MD Design struggled to trim the deficit under 10 for most of the second half.
MD Design went to McGhee almost every possession in the second half, and the muscular 6-8, 245-pounder delivered, scoring 23 of his game-high 30 points in the second half. His reverse layup and ensuing free throw with 2:04 remaining cut PSC’s lead to 67-62, but Jobey Thomas of Charlotte (10 points) answered that three-point play with a three-point field goal from the right corner to extend the margin back to eight at 70-62, and PSC had weathered the comeback. McGhee and Chris Burgess of Utah snared 15 rebounds each for MD Design in the loss.
Third Place Game: Naval Shipyard 99, Beach Barton Ford 66: Lubos Barton of Valparaiso wasted no time letting everyone in attendance know he was going to have a big game. Barton erupted for 11 early points to stake Naval Shipyard to a 22-11 lead nine minutes into the game, and he never cooled off in leading Naval Shipyard to an easy win. Barton, the 6-8 forward from the Czech Republic, made 11 of 16 field goal attempts for the game and knocked down four of seven three-point field goal attempts.
In addition to Barton’s heroics, Naval Shipyard also got 12 first-half points from Ohio State’s Brian Brown to secure a 44-37 halftime lead. Preston Shumpert of Syracuse (12 points on 6-of-9 shooting) hit back-to-back baskets to finish off a 14-4 opening surge that pushed the lead to 58-41 just four minutes into the second half. Beach Barton Ford never threatened thereafter.
Brown tallied 16 points and six assists for the winners, while Tony Akins of Georgia Tech (14 points, five rebounds, four assists), Chris Moss of West Virginia (13 points) and Jannero Pargo of Arkansas (nine assists) all contributed in support of Barton’s sterling game.
Monte Cummings of Florida State enjoyed his best performance of the week with a team-leading 18 points for Beach Barton Ford, which also got 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals from the ever-versatile John Salmons of Miami. Robert Archibald of Illinois chipped in with a game-high10 rebounds.
Consolation Championship: Sales Systems 81, Riddle Acura 73: Bill Phillips of St. Joseph’s scored five crucial points in a late 9-0 run that spurred Sales Systems to the victory. After a basket by San Diego State’s Randy Holcomb cut Sales Systems’ lead to 70-69 with about five minutes remaining, Brooks Sales of Villanova hit a driving shot, Phillips nailed a three-pointer and a 20-foot jumper and Billy Knight of UCLA converted a layup to vault Sales Systems ahead 79-69 with two minutes remaining.
Riddle Acura trailed by a handful of points virtually throughout the game until taking a brief 67-65 lead on a basket by Southern Illinois’ Rolan Roberts (game-highs of 21 points and 14 rebounds). But Knight’s short jumper tied the scored and Sales made a three-point play to allow Sales Systems to edge back into the lead for good.
Phillips turned in his best performance of the tournament with team-highs of 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Sales contributed 13 points and six rebounds to the cause. Cordell Henry of Marquette played a strong game with 10 points, eight assists and only one turnover for Sales Systems.
Keith McLeod of Bowling Green added 13 points and Brandon Granville of USC notched seven assists for Riddle Acura.
NOTE: The PIT All-Tournament Team will be released Monday, accompanied by a statistical look at the PIT’s leading performers.