SCOTTSVILLE – It was another valuable learning experience for the Allen County-Scottsville girls’ basketball team, which held on for a 46-41 win over Portland (Tenn.) to open the South Central Bank-Halton Classic on Tuesday at Allen County-Scottsville High School.

Allen County-Scottsville (5-7) never trailed but had to survive a late charge by Portland to earn the win. It was the sixth game decided by seven points or less this season, with the Lady Patriots improving to 3-3 in those games.

“We are young and have been in a lot of tight games,” ACS coach Greg Dunn said. “I’m proud of them for finding a way to win.”

ACS got off to a hot start, scoring the first nine points and leading by as much as 10 points in the first half before settling for a 24-16 lead at halftime.

“Any time we can get off to a start like that, because there have been a few games where we struggled, it’s big – very big,” Dunn said. “I think we hit our first three shots, forced the timeout and it kind of played even from then on.”

Portland (4-9) stayed within striking distance, trimming the deficit to 36-30 early in the fourth quarter. Jayleigh Steenbergen’s steal and layup followed by a bucket from Jaylee Covington pushed the ACS lead back to double digits with 5:53 left.

The Panthers scored seven straight to get within three. An Aubrie Nasier bucket briefly stopped the run, but Portland scored the next four points to pull within 42-41 with 40 seconds left.

It was as close as the Panthers would get, with Covington’s layup stemming the tide and two free throws in the final seconds clinching the win.

“I was tired, but I was thinking in my mind, ‘I have to finish these free throws and win this ballgame,’ ” Covington said.

Covington led the way for ACS with 14 points and nine rebounds. Nasier added 13 points, while Steenbergen finished with eight points.

Allen County-Scottsville outrebounded Portland 41-21, led by a career-high 13 rebounds from Chloe Cook.

“I thought we had good balance and people doing some of the little things that you don’t see on the stat sheet, like Clara (Berry) playing good defense,” Dunn said. “We outrebounded them by 20. That was a great job on the boards. We talked about energy and effort today. I feel like our kids played hard and gave us that energy we needed.”

One cause for concern came at the free-throw line, where the Lady Patriots finished 7-for-19.

“If we hit our free throws better, shoot close to 70 percent, we are probably in a 10-point game,” Dunn said. “We’ve got to work on that. It’s something that you have to be careful how much you talk about. If it gets in their head, then they struggle hitting free throws from here on.”

Allen County-Scottsville will face Lincoln County in the second round of the tournament on Wednesday.

PHS 7 9 13 12 – 41

ACSHS 14 10 12 10 – 46

PHS – Totten 14, Hester 11, Gregory 9, Waggoner 5, Rauocro 2.

ACS – Covington 14, Nasier 13, Steenbergen 8, Cook 6, Morris 4, Duke 1.{&end}

– Follow prep sports reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.

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