Portsmouth girls' defense stymies Ponagansett

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PORTSMOUTH — A resolve to tighten up their defense paid dividends for the Portsmouth girls basketball team last Friday when they beat Ponagansett 55-39.

"One of our issues has been that we have not consistently played good defense," said first-year coach Rob Johnson. "In some games that has left us down double digits pretty quickly."

Friday, "they focused on their team defense right from the beginning," he said. The result was a low scoring first half but a lead for Portsmouth of 19-16.

In the second half, Portsmouth built on that lead, thanks in good part to the shooting of senior Sam Turcotte who scored 26 for the game — nearly half of her team's points.

Joining her among the leading scorers were Haley Alves with 8 points, Kelley Coyne with 7 and Briana Turcotte with 7.

With Portsmouth at 3 wins and 4 losses (before Friday's scheduled game against  Cranston West), Coach Johnson said he sees good signs of improvement.

"After struggling through an early season of adjusting to a different system and  coach, we are getting to know each other ... I think we're headed in the right direction."

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.