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Portal swats Hornets

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Portal swats Hornets

Portal's Robert Lee, right, blocks a shot attempt by Savannah Country Day's Brentton Ford during the first quarter on Tuesday in Portal.

    PORTAL — The Portal Panthers recorded their second consecutive sub-region win Tuesday night as they completed a season sweep of Savannah Country Day with a 69-57 victory.
    Stacy Morgan led the Panthers (13-4, 4-2 Region 3-A) with 33 points while Corey Reese (16 points, 12 rebounds) scored eight of Portal’s 13 points in the third quarter to help maintain a comfy lead that lasted for the majority of the game.
    “Every game is important this time of year,” said Portal coach Jeff Brannen. “It’s always tough to beat a team twice in a season, especially a talented team like Country Day. We still have plenty to improve on, but this was a good win for us.”
    Ben Johnson led the Hornets (7-11, 1-5) with 19 points, but was held scoreless over the final quarter and fouled out as the Panthers attempted to run out the clock in the final minutes.
    Portal nursed a 12-8 lead through the first quarter, but started to pull away early in the second when Morgan sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a trey from Robert Lee.
    Johnson single-handedly kept the Hornets competitive early on, but the Panthers were able to hold Gary McGinty — Country Day’s leading scorer — in check.
    “McGinty is averaging over 20 points per game,” said Brannen. “A few other guys hit some shots against us, but holding McGinty to just 10 points was big.”
    Corey Reese (16 points) got himself involved in the action coming out of halftime. The senior forward went 3-for-3 from the field in the third quarter and hit two of his three free throw attempts in the period as Portal’s lead ballooned to as many as 18 points.
    While Reese controlled the inside, Morgan continued to connect from farther away, hitting the third of his four 3’s in the quarter. Morgan was just as effective from the line, scoring 11 of his points via free throws.
    Country Day’s best chance to get back in the game came midway through the fourth quarter. A jumper by McGinty brought the Hornets within 54-44 and Portal’s Treston White missed the first shot of a one-and-one on the next possession, but the Panthers hauled in the rebound and White redeemed himself with an inside bucket to ensure that the Panther lead never dipped below double-digits.
    With the win, the Panthers stay in contention for the top spot in their sub-region. Calvary Day and Jenkins County are also in the hunt and — after dropping its first game of the season against both teams — Portal’s final matchups with both teams will be vital.
    “We had a couple overtime losses against those guys the first time around,” said Brannen. “Those hurt in the standings. But in this region, every night is going to be a battle. Our games against Jenkins and Calvary will be big, but so are all of the rest.”

Lady Panthers get some revenge
    The Portal girls avenged an earlier loss to Savannah Country Day and notched a critical sub-region win with a 48-37 victory in Tuesday’s first game.
    Earlier in the month, the Lady Panthers (7-9, 1-5 Region 3-A) lost a heartbreaker in overtime against the Lady Hornets (2-9, 2-4) Tuesday’s game was close throughout, the Portal led for almost all of the night and put things away in the late stages.
    “It’s big for us to prove that we’re getting better,” said Portal coach Cliff Hubbard. “Last time, we couldn’t quite get it done against Country Day. We really needed to show that we could come back and play a better game the second time around.”
    Shiann Hagins stole the show for Portal, scoring 28 points and accounting for 17 of the Panthers’ 22 first half points.
    Hagins was strong throughout, but Breyonna Raymond helped to seal the deal with nine points in the final quarter.
    Country Day pulled within 32-29 with just over four minutes to play, but Raymond connected on a pair of layups and four free throws to extend the Panthers’ lead and put the game out of reach late.
    More revenge will be on the Lady Panthers’ minds – and the boys team as well – as Portal hosts Jenkins County in another sub-region clash Friday evening.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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