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Region romp

Panthers roll at Jenkins County

Region romp

Region romp

Portal's Trent Thomas puts an exclama...

    MILLEN — Jenkins County got off to a rocky start, beginning the season 1-11, including a 57-43 loss at Portal on Jan. 7.
    The War Eagles (6-12, 3-4 Region 3-A) had won five consecutive games and made life tough on the Panthers Friday night, but a late surge from a pair of Portal’s senior stars helped to claim a 75-59 victory.
    Jenkins County rallied from an early deficit to take a 52-49 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Stacey Morgan (23 points) hit 3s on back-to-back possessions and Robert Lee (10 points) drained another from beyond the arc to lead the late charge for the Panthers (16-3, 6-1).
    “We had some of our veteran guys really step up,” Portal coach Jeff Brannen said. “These guys have played over 100 games in their careers. This was a tough game against a rival. Some teams might have shied away when Jenkins made their run, but our guys answered the challenge.”
    Early on, it looked like there would be much smoother sailing for Portal.
    Trent Thomas — who scored a game-high 25 points — was lights-out for the Panthers early on. Thomas connected on three 3-pointers and totaled 17 points as the Panthers held a 24-14 lead after the first period of play.
    Jenkins County started to chip away in the second quarter and drew within 38-31 at halftime.
    DeMarcus Baldwin continued to lead the comeback attempt in the third quarter has he knocked down a long 3 to add to his team-high 15 points.
    Portal nursed a small lead into the final quarter, but Ira Hendrix (13 points) connected on a jumper on the first possession of the period and Trentin Drayton tied things up with a jumper off of an offensive rebound.
    Willie Baldwin’s layup in transition gave the Eagles their first lead and DeMarcus Baldwin hit a jumper to stretch the advantage before Morgan began his heroics.
    “That’s what we’ve come to expect,” Brannen said. “This is a tough region. There just aren’t any nights off for any of us.”
    With the win, the Panthers pull back into a tie for first place in the eastern half of the region. Portal still holds the No. 2 spot in the Class A public school power poll and is seeking a third consecutive Region 3-A tournament championship next month.

Portal girls get big win
    In Friday’s opening game, the Portal girls battled for a much-needed 39-32 win over Jenkins County.
    The Lady Panthers (8-11, 3-4) maintained a slim lead throughout the game to prevail.
    Portal was never able to pull away, but still showed plenty of progress after letting a few similar games get away from them over the last few weeks.
    “This shows that we’re growing,” Portal coach Cliff Hubbard said. “We were pleased with how we were playing early on, but the losing streak we’ve been on was kind of hard on us. This was a big one to get us back into the right mindset.”
    Win or lose, Portal’s Breyonna Raymond has been an unstoppable force throughout the season. Raymond led all scorers with 22 points Friday night, including six of Portal’s 10 fourth quarter points to salt away the win.
    The Panthers boys and girls will both get big tests again tonight as Wilkinson County comes to town. Wilkinson’s girls boast a 13-5 record while the boys are defending state champs at the Class A public school level.

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

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