Portnoy enjoys career day as Eastern knocks off Hightstown to win holiday tourney

There was a time when basketball was a bit of an afterthought compared to Max Portnoy’s baseball and trucks.

In eighth grade, things changed with influences like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

“I used to watch their highlights all day long,” said the Eastern Junior Point Guard.

Portnoy, who stood 5-foot-11 in freshman year, is now 6-3 and has taken his game to another level.

Portnoy delivered a career performance Wednesday as the Eastern pulled away in the fourth quarter en route to a 70-51 win over previously undefeated Heightstown to win the Eastern Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament.

His stats line – 21 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks. Points, rebounds and assists were all career highs.

“They were running the press, so we were able to run a lot of things. We were able to make good decisions on the fly – to score or to kick into a corner,” said Portnoy. rice field. “They were very physical at the start of the third set and ran a little. , stepped forward.”

Eastern coach Kevin Crawford noticed that Portnoy was a young man who had been playing travel ball since the fourth grade. He made a big leap during his eighth grade.

Max Portnoy played a big role Wednesday as the Eastern defeated Heightstown to win the Eastern Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament.Kevin Minnick | His NJ Advance Media on NJ.com

“His body grew and he got into basketball,” Crawford said of last year’s sixth man.

“There’s been a bit of a hole and a void in some of the moves we’ve had, but he’s really filling that space with a lot of potential. As he goes, we go.” He has all the tools – a 6-3 point guard who can shoot, dribble and defend.He’s long and can finish.”

Portnoy said: I’m trying to paint, touch and create for others and myself. ”

Eastern (4-2) extended their winning streak to three. The Vikings reached the title game with his 64-39 win over Kingsway. Heightstown (5-1) beat Moorestown in another semi-final of his own.

Damian Edwards connected with three 3-pointers to score 17 points in the final. He also recorded 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Chase Haggard had two shots from over the arc as part of the 8 point.

Don DeLeo - Coach of Heightstown

Heightstown coach Don DeLeo weighs strategy in the second half of Wednesday’s holiday tournament final against Eastern.Kevin Minnick | His NJ Advance Media on NJ.com

The Easterns closed out the final three minutes of the third quarter with a 14-4 run and took a 39-38 lead on a Portnoy layup. Heightstown cut the deficit early in the fourth he cut to 51-46, but Eastern took the lead and finished the game on a 19-5 run.

“We’re improving as the season goes on. We’re one second away from going 5-1 with a foul shot, but every team we’ve played against has been very competitive,” he said. Crawford said. “Playing in the Olympic Games forces us to grow.

Keenan Rice led Heightstown with 20 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. Yasin Elhossieni he scored 17 points, 4 boards, 2 assists and 8 steals.

“This is my first senior group and I’ve been working hard since June,” said fourth-year Heightstown coach Don DeLeo. increase.

“What I learned today is that you have to give your best to a good team.”

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Kevin Minnick covers South Jersey Boys Basketball.he can be reached at kminnick@njadvancemedia.comfollow him on twitter @kminnicksports

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