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Calvary too much for Panthers

    SAVANNAH — For a moment, it looked as though the Portal Panthers were going to stroll right into Savannah and steal a region title from hometown favorite Calvary Day. The Cavaliers, however, were just too much.
    Both teams had four players in double figures and Calvary survived a see-saw affair Saturday night at Demere Gymnasium on the campus of Savannah Country Day to capture the region 3-A championship in a 74-70 win.
    The Panthers, trailing by as many as 12 in the second half, cut the lead to three with 11.8 seconds left in regulation and had a chance to send the game into overtime. But senior Fred Williams’ inbounds pass from under his own basket found its way into the hands of Calvary’s Alex Moorman. One Calvary free throw later and the game was sealed.
    “I’m real proud of my guys — we never gave up,” said PHS coach Jeff Brannen. “I give credit to my guys, they never gave up. We just didn’t have enough there to win it at the end.”
    The Cavs — the No. 4 ranked team in the state — took their first lead of the game on a Julius Green 3-pointer just 11 seconds into the second half, 37-36. They would never trail again and managed to open up a 52-40 advantage in the third quarter. Williams’ jumper at the 2:06 mark broke a 3:36 PHS drought and seemed to wake-up the Panthers’ leading scorer. Williams was 1-for-8 from the field before the make.
    Portal got as close as six three minutes into the fourth, but Calvary’s lead continued to fluctuate between six and 10 points. Williams and point guard Marquan Jackson combined for 18 points in the period to whittle the lead to three with 11 seconds to go.
    “It was tough game,” said Jackson, a senior. “Once they got the lead they kept fighting and we kept fighting and it was hard to come back.”
    Jackson finished with a team-high 21 points including four 3s on eight attempts.
    The breaking point for PHS was the second quarter, a period in which they were outscored 30-12 and nursed a 36-34 lead going into the break. The Cavs held Portal to 2 of 7 shooting while sinking 64 percent of their shots.
    A Nicholas Paris 3 for CDS at the buzzer was a demoralizing parting shot heading into the locker room.
    “I thought we were very fortunate to be up by two (at halftime),” said Brannen. “They made bigger runs then we did, and I thought that was the difference in the ballgame.”
    Portal jumped out to an 8-0 lead thanks to four quick points from senior Shane Reese, three offensive rebounds and a steal and jam by Mario Farris. After a quick 7-2 spurt by the Cavs, Portal’s lead grew to 22-11 after consecutive steals by Williams, one of which he finished with a one-handed dunk.
    Farris, Williams, Reese, who finished with 10 points, and Jackson all picked up their second foul in the second quarter, aiding Calvary to its eight-minute explosion. It was the third time the Cavs have beaten Portal this season.
    “I think it’s because we get balanced scoring every time we play them,” said Calvary’s Green. “Somebody always steps up big, and we do it on the defensive end.”
    Green, the Cav’s shooting guard scored a game-high 22, 19 of which came in the second and third quarters. He was followed by Moorman’s 18 and Cody Padgett’s 15.
    Moorman and Padgett, Calvary’s two big men, posed match-up problems for PHS all night.
    Farris finished with 10 before fouling out in the fourth quarter for the Panthers.
    Portal shot 48 percent from the field while the Cavs finished at a cool 63 percent.
    Despite the loss, Portal will host Saturday’s first round game of the state playoffs against an opponent yet to be determined.

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