HOT SPRINGS – In addition to bringing height and skill to Arkansas basketball program in a couple of years, Little Rock Hall power forward Bobby Portis will bring a culture of winning.
Portis (6-10, 220) had 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals as the Razorbacks' 2013 pledge led his Warriors over Fayetteville 42-31 Friday night in Class 7A boys state championship game.
It was the third straight state title for Hall with Portis – ranked 30th nationally by Scout.com in the 2013 class - being a cog on the last two and hoping to add another one next season.
"That is certainly what I plan to do," Portis said. "Get better as a player and win as a team just like we always do."
Portis - who averaged 16.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 35 blocked shots per game this year - went up against 6-10 Fayetteville junior center Tyler McCullough, who has committed to Missouri State.
McCullough had 7 first-half points as the Purple Bulldogs – who had won 18 in a row on the court - took a 19-15 lead to intermission, but did not score in the second half.
He had two shots blocked by Portis and another couple altered although McCullough did have having 7 rebounds.
"I think Bobby had about three or four blocked shots that I think changed the momentum of the game," said Coleman, whose team ended the season on a 22-game winning streak.
Portis had four dunks and also stepped out to hit a big 3-pointer near the third quarter buzzer that surged Hall ahead 29-23.
"It was different for me," Portis said. "First time I have gone up against somebody 6-10 this season. I just had to change my game a little bit and bring him out so I could shoot over him."
Portis stock climbed this summer while playing AAU ball for the Arkansas Wings as he showed off his inside and outside skills.
"I showed everybody my versatility," Portis said. "I just tried to do something a little different."
This was a completely different team that won it for Hall (26-3) this season as opposed to the last one.
"It's big in a lot of ways, but mainly it shows the dedication that our guys have," Coleman said. "We graduated seven seniors last year and while our senior group this year got playing time, their roles are totally different from last year."
Coleman praised his team for its patience.
"In today's society, if you don't get it right now, it is easy for the kids to get disgruntled and go to other schools and that type thing," Coleman said. "But they have done a great job in buying into the program and just staying here and representing Hall and their parents and themselves just tremendously.
"While they do well on the court as a team, our team grade point average is over three point as a team and I am proud of them in a lot of different ways," Coleman added. "All of our seniors have already qualified meeting the minimum score on the ACT test. They have been a great group."
While both teams return key players for next season, there won't be a rematch because Hall will drop down to Class 6A next season while Fayetteville (23-7) will stay in 7A.
In the stands Friday night was former Hall coach Oliver Elders, who won four state titles in a row back in his day.
That's something that Coleman will be shooting for with Portis leading the way next season.
"We have a very talented junior class and their goal would be to win a conference championship and win a state championship," Coleman said. "That will be their goal.
"Not trying to put any pressure on the big fellow or Perry, but that's the goal," Coleman added.
"We are glad that we have Bobby here at Hall," Coleman said. "He did a great job from last year to the summer to now in working on his game. I know he was disappointed at times last year because he maybe didn't play as much as he wanted to…A lot of times kids pout and shut it down, but he went to work and he came back with a lot of enthusiasm.
Coleman thinks Portis will just keep getting better.
"What I like is that he does not rest on bis laurels," Coleman said. "He is always pushing to get better and I know that he will improve from now until next year. He has been a breath of fresh air to coach and he is a yes sir, no sir guy. He has just done everything we have asked him to do and I know he will continue to do those things."
A True Winner
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