The center of attention was obvious Tuesday night at Buzz Bolding Arena.
It was the center.
Bobby Portis, Little Rock Hall’s 6-foot-9 center and a Razorback recruit, signed autographs for several wearing Conway gear as he waited for the boys portion of the 7A/6A Central doubleheader against Conway.
Portis certainly made his presence known for the Warriors with 18 points, several blocks or altered shots, two resounding slam dunks and one superb, no-look pass that led to a fast-break layup. It helped Little Rock Hall (9-3, 2-0) hand the Wampus Cats (10-4, 1-1) possibly their greatest home thumpings in years, 68-34. It was never a contest. Little Rock Hall scored the first 14 points on the way to a 17-1 lead. The Warriors stretched it to 33-8 midway through the second quarter and 68-28 at its greatest juncture before back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute by the Cats’ Dominic Taylor drew his team a tad closer.
“Portis is just hard to handle because he runs the floor so well and works with his teammates,” said Conway coach James Bates. “I’ve seen him make a 3-pointer on tape.”
But the floodgates were not opened by Portis. As Conway sagged its zone defense on the interior, Warrior guard Javan Perry scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half.
“We tried to face up with Portis down low and their other people were impressive,” said James Bates. “When we had to move outside to try to stop that, Portis just took over. We don’t have the physical power to match that. Other guys besides Portis hurt us. They are a complete team, one of the best five in the state.
“They shot 75 percent the first half; we shot 30 percent. We attacked them pretty well, played hard throughout and actually executed a lot of things in our game plan. We just didn’t make shots. At some point, you have to make shots and get stops.”
“Our guards came out with a lot of intensity and fortunately we made a few shots early to get us going,” said Hall coach Jon Coleman. “We defended well early, got stops and scored ourselves. We played with a lot of energy and were aggressive in our ballhandling.”
STAT LINE: Portis scored 18 points and Perry 16. Gregg Easter added nine. Taylor led the Cats with 10 points and Tim Boyd added nine.
Slowing down the pace from an up-and-down victory in the title game of the Wampus Cat Invitational, the Hall girls (14-3) hurt the Cats when they did break out, opened a double-digit lead in the second quarter and made that stick for a 62-52 victory.
Warrior guard Tyler Scaife, moving her base of operations to the lane area in the second half, scored 12 of her 26 points in the fourth quarter. She also sparked the defensive effort on the Lady Cats’ top scorers and made the assist on several breakout baskets.
Hall, which led 27-15 at the half, broke out for nine uncontested or mildly contested layups against the Lady Cats (11-3, 1-1).
With the Lady Cats trailing, 40-22, at the start of the fourth quarter, Jordan Danberry sparked a late surge but Conway got no closer than eight points. The door was closed on the CHS girls they trimmed the deficit to 56-48 with 1:58 left, missed the front of a one-and-one and Scaife broke away for a fast-break layup.
STAT LINE: Danberry scored 25 points for the Lady Cats. Enjonae Chambers added 10 and Asia Willard eight. Taylor Collins added 11 for Hall.
NEXT: CHS teams continue their homestand Friday against Fort Smith Northside.