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Panthers soar past Treutlen

Panthers soar past Treutlen

Panthers soar past Treutlen

Portal's Corey Reese, left, grabs an ...

    PORTAL — Having lost its last two region games, Portal decided to shake things up.
    Panthers coach Jeff Brannen opted for a starting lineup full of reserves and underclassmen that got things off to a good start and the Portal regulars returned in the second half to polish off a 75-56 win over Treutlen Tuesday night.
    “I think that sometimes, a team needs a little motivation,” said Brannen. “We’ve got a lot of guys that practice hard every day that we gave a chance to start tonight. Sometimes it helps to change things up a little and I was proud of the way they executed.”
    Senior guard Jamie Hagins spent the first half of action on the bench, but exploded for 17 points to help get the Panthers back on track in Region 3B-A action.
    Portal controlled play from the opening tip, but had a hard time getting out to a substantial lead.
    Brannen started a lineup full of underclassmen, and while they showed good patience against the Vikings’ zone defense, the Panthers – who played with a four-guard lineup for much of the night – had trouble getting the ball inside for scoring opportunities.
    Tied at 7-7 late in the first quarter, Panther freshman Robert Lee hit a free throw to put Portal in front.
    Corey Walker converted a three-point play with 0.8 seconds left, but Treutlen’s Jonathon Madison hit an 85-footer to cut the Portal lead to 11-10 after the first period of play.
    The game went back and forth in the second quarter as the Panthers clung to a slim lead with the Vikings answering each Portal basket.
    Short jumpers by Lee and Jordan Cowart and a 3 by Treston White staked the Panthers to a 28-20 lead, but two free throws and a late layup by Jacob Smith (18 points) brought Treutlen within 28-24 at the break.
    With normal starters Hagins, Stacey Morgan and Isiah Rich back in the lineup in the second half, Portal finally started to pull away.
    Treutlen hung tough through the opening minutes of the third quarter and Smith’s 3-pointer brought the Vikings within 34-33, but Hagins hit back-to-back 3’s to kick-start a 12-4 run that gave the Panthers a comfortable lead.
    “The guys that we brought in later responded very well to the situation,” said Brannen. “I liked that we were able to run out and play our type of game. That’s what allowed us to pull away at the end.”
    Some sound free throw shooting allowed Truetlen to once again get back into the game, but Hagins and Morgan dominated the final minutes of the third quarter to put Portal up 58-46 heading to the final eight minutes.
    The Panthers steadily built on their lead early in the fourth quarter, and Hagins’ 3 from three feet beyond the arc put a dagger in the Vikings as Portal took a 68-51 advantage with just over three minutes to play.
    Corey Reese finished right behind Hagins with 16 points. Rich seemed to be catching fire with the rest of the Panthers early in the second half, but was forced out of the game with a leg injury.
    Portal will try to keep its momentum going when it travels to Jenkins County Friday night before returning home for Senior Night against Screven County Saturday.

Lady Vikings 49, Lady Panthers 46
    The Portal girls gave it a good run in Tuesday’s first game, but couldn’t quite come up with enough for a win.
    Trailing at halftime, the Lady Panthers exploded for a 14-0 run to start the second half. The outburst gave Portal a 36-27 lead late in the third quarter, but Treutlen responded, dominating down the stretch to earn a 49-46 victory.
    After giving up a three-point halftime advantage during Portal’s third quarter run, the Lady Vikings finally pulled even at 41-41 on a jumper by India Pierce.
    With all of the momentum, Treutlen pulled ahead and stretched the lead as far as 49-43 before Megan Anderson hit a 3 with 15 seconds to play.
    BreAnna McClendon — who led all scorers with 21 points — was fouled on the inbound pass, but missed both free throws.
    Portal pressed up-court, but McClendon redeemed herself with a steal and was fouled again with just 3.1 seconds to play. She once again missed on both free throws, but the Panthers couldn’t get off a potential game-tying shot and Treutlen escaped with the win.
    Portal seniors Nikki Sims and Megan Moore scored 14 and 10 points, respectively, in one of the Panthers’ best offensive efforts of the season.

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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