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Panthers pound Screven County on Senior Night

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Panthers pound Screven County on Senior Night

    PORTAL — One night after a disheartening loss at Calvary Day, the Portal boys bounced back to give their seniors one final win in front of the home crowd.
    The Panthers honored four players and a team manager before their game against Screven County, then rolled to an impressive 69-48 win.
    “We definitely wanted to come out and play a solid game,” said Portal coach Jeff Brannen. “We actually tried a few new and different things tonight. I think that we did a pretty good job of executing.”
    The Gamecocks (0-19, 0-6 Region 3-AA) used good outside shooting to stay in contention for most of the night, but Portal senior Treston White heated up in the final quarter. White scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Panthers (16-6, 6-3 Region 3-A) pulled away in the final minutes.
    Fellow senior Corey Reese netted nine points while the remaining seniors — Shawn Hagins and Chris Wiggins — also found the scorer’s book.
    “It’s always nice to get everyone involved on Senior Night,” said Brannen. “All of our seniors play important roles for us, so we knew that they’d get their chances in their final home game.”
    After a quick start for Screven, Hagins nailed a pair of free throws to tie the game in the opening minutes, then beat the buzzer with a runner in the lane to give Portal an 18-10 lead after the first quarter.
    Utilizing a constant full-court press and rotating out all five players when the time came for substitutions, Portal had the Gamecocks on edge. The Panthers found success working the ball inside and — after made baskets — were able to force plenty of quick turnovers as Screven County tried to work its way back down the court.
    Brandon Whatley (8 points) and Donta Wilburn (6 points) combined to hit three 3-pointers in the closing minutes of the second quarter to whittle the Portal lead down to 36-31 at halftime.
    Portal continued to inch away in the third quarter and White pressed the lead into double digits with a steal and slam dunk that sent the Panthers’ student section into a frenzy. Freshman Tyler Budgett connected on a 3 as the third quarter buzzer sounded to make it a 54-42 Panther advantage.
    “Screven hit some shots on us when they got past the press, but we hung in there,” said Brannen. “We kept getting our shots and we took advantage wherever we could.”
    White started the victory celebration with a baseline jumper early in the fourth quarter before knocking down 3’s on consecutive possessions.
    Portal stretch the lead as high as 66-42, then were able to give each senior one more moment to be appreciated by the home crowd as they were subbed out in the final minutes.
    Saturday may have marked the final time that Portal’s seniors play at home — although the Panthers might come back if they make the state playoffs with a high enough seed — but there is still plenty more basketball to play.
    The Panthers round out region play Tuesday at Claxton and travel to Wilkinson County next weekend before beginning the Region 3-A tournament at Jenkins County. Portal should get a boost against Claxton as Stacey Morgan is expected to return from an injured ankle that has kept him out of the last three games.

Screven girls dominate Portal
    The Lady Panthers’ seniors didn’t get nearly as nice of a sendoff as Screven County dealt out a 63-27 beating on Saturday.        Portal (9-12, 2-7 Region 3-A) was short-handed for the second consecutive night as Breyonna Raymond and Gloria Wiggins both sat out with injuries and leading scorer on the season Shiann Hagins was limited with a knee injury.
    Courtney Roberts stole the show for the Lady Gamecocks (6-13, 1-4 Region 3-AA), matching Portal’s offense all by herself with 27 points, including three connections from behind the arc. Shakinah Rollins also topped double digits as she pitched in 15 points.
    Chelsea Allen and Mary Lane tied for the team lead with seven points each.
    Screven hit the ground running and left Portal in its wake, storming out to a 23-3 lead after the first quarter. The Panthers were eventually able to find some offense, but the Gamecocks continued to extend their lead, putting the mercy clock into action for the final quarter.
    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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