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Portal moves to 7-0

    SYLVANIA — The first time the Portal Panthers took on the Screven County Gamecocks, it came down to a last-second, overtime jumper that gave the Panthers a one-point win after they saw a 16-point lead evaporate before their eyes.
    This time around, they made sure to put SCHS away early.
    The Panthers (7-0) led from the middle of the first quarter until the final buzzer as they knocked off Screven 62-53 Tuesday night to extend their winning streak to seven and remain unbeaten on the season.
    “I thought we played better on defense this time,” said PHS coach Jeff Brannen. “The defensive pressure changed the tempo of the game, and then, of course, they tried to press us, so we got some easy baskets which turned the whole game around.”
    Mario Farris led the Panthers from the post, grabbing six rebounds and knocking down 23 points, including three authoritative slam dunks. On one occasion, David Buchannon lofted one up near the rim, and Farris used both hands to slam it home. The final Panther Bucket of the game was a one-handed jam by the senior forward.
    Buchannon added five assists, five rebounds and 16 points, and T.J. Busby added 11 points to reach double digits. Buchannon, a senior transfer, has not wasted any time securing his role as the leader at Portal in his first year at the school.
    “(Buchannon) is a floor general,” said Brannen. “He sets everybody else up in good position to score, and the guys know if they are open, they are going to get the ball. He’s doing a good job. Defensively, he’s got to work a little bit more. I though tonight we played good team defense overall, and rebounded the ball well. It was a good victory.”
    Screven jumped ahead to an early 4-0 lead, but PHS responded quickly with seven unanswered points, including a pair of 3-pointers by Buchannon and Busby. They never looked back.
    The Gamecocks trailed only 26-21 at halftime, but Portal came out of the gates and exploded offensively in the third, out-scoring Screven 23-12 in the period.
    The teams both grabbed 20 rebounds in the contest, but the high-powered Portal offense proved too much.
    Brannen is pleased the way his team has come together just seven games into the season, and is not surprised to see his team at 7-0.
    “It was just a matter of time of us getting our chemistry,” Brannen said, “getting used to playing with each other, distributing the ball and getting the ball out into open court and getting easy shots. That’s what we’re going to continue to do. That’s our system. We’re going to get the ball out, and we’re going to try to run. If teams want to run with us, we’ll run some more.”

Lady Gamecocks 45, Lady Panthers 35
    For the second time this season, the Portal Lady Panthers (6-2) saw a three-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of Screven County as they could not overcome a 12-point, first-quarter deficit and dropped one on the road to the Lady Gamecocks (6-2) Tuesday by a score of 45-35.
    After trailing 16-4 heading into the second, the Panthers outscored the Gamecocks 31-29 over the final three quarters.
    “The girls made a few mistakes that kind of let (Portal) get back into the game,” said Gamecock coach Roy Cooper. “We’ll work on that tomorrow.”
    The Panthers saw a breakout performance from Kendra Buchannon, who came of the bench to score a game-high 13 points and grab three steals, but PHS could not spark the comeback.
    Trailing 10-2 early in the game, Bridgett Oglesby sank a jumper to bring Portal within six, but that was as close as it would come for the remainder of the contest.
    Screven’s Yana Felton finished off the quarter with three-straight buckets to jump the Gamecocks up by 12.
    Felton and Jasmine White both finished the contest with 9 points, and Bria Lonon — the only Gamecock to reach double digits - led SCHS with 10 points and five rebounds.
    Cooper was pleased with what he saw out of Lonon and Felton.
    Said Cooper: “I had a couple of freshmen play really well. Lonon and Felton are both freshmen, and they looked really good.”
    Kanesha Eason and Mary Cox each added seven points for the Panthers in the losing effort.
    Portal returns to action when they take on Calvary on Friday. The girls tip off at 6 p.m. and they boys get going at 7:30.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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