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Portal escapes CHS with win

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Portal escapes CHS with win

    CLAXTON — The Portal Panthers needed two overtimes and some clutch shots to defeat the Claxton Tigers in their first meeting of the year. This time, things were a bit easier.
    A run early in the fourth quarter got Claxton within five points of the Panthers, but Portal gathered itself and held on for a 60-51 win Tuesday night at the Tiger’s Den.
    Portal may have held the upper hand throughout the night, but it was another heavyweight brawl between teams that have delivered nothing but entertainment in recent meetings.
    Senior forward Corey Reese led the way for the Panthers (17-6, 7-3 Region 3-A) scoring 20 and pulling down 14 rebounds. Reese was on fire when it mattered most, missing just once from the field in the second half.
    “That’s what we need him to do,” Brannen said. “Every once in a while, he’ll get in that kind of groove where he starts making a bunch of those shots.”
    Cornelius Taylor — who scored a game-high 22 points — led the Tigers (15-9, 4-6) in a frantic charge after going down by as much as 43-29 in the third quarter.
    Taylor started off the fourth quarter with a four-point play after being fouled on a made 3. One minute later, Taylor drove hard to the lane for a layup and converted another free throw to make it 47-41.
    He made one more deep 3 with under two minutes to play to keep things tense, but Reese and Stacey Morgan (11 points) kept Claxton at bay with solid free throw shooting.
    “You know that Claxton is going to fight,” Brannen said. “We got a good start, but let up a little. There was no quit in Claxton and they were there until the end like I figured they would be.”
    By completing the season sweep over the Tigers, the Panthers clinched the No. 2 seed out of the sub-region and will get a bye through the first round of next week’s region tournament.
    As the No. 4 seed, Claxton will take on No. 5 Johnson County in the first round of the tournament, which will be played at Calvary Day.

Claxton girls mop up
    The Portal ladies managed a far better showing against Claxton than in their 58-15 loss back on Jan. 18, but again came up short, falling 49-24 in Tuesday’s first game. The Lady Panthers were within 38-20 after the third quarter, but didn’t score again until the 1:28 mark of the final period as the Lady Tigers pulled away.
    Jazmine Price scored 14 and Ikeria Brown added 13 more for the Tigers (18-6, 8-2).
    Mary Lane scored 12 for the Panthers (9-13, 2-8), but was the only Portal player with more than four points.
    With the win, the Tigers continued their stellar season and clinched the No. 2 seed out of the sub-region. Claxton advanced to the second round of the state playoffs last season and are hopeful for a similar result this time around.
    The loss left the Panthers (9-13, 2-8) clinging to a small lead over Jenkins County for the No. 5 seed.
    Portal will take on Jenkins County in the first round of the region tournament at Calvary Day.
    Following the first round of tournament action, the remaining games will be played at Jenkins County for both the boys and girls brackets.

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

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