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Panthers send Seminole home

Panthers send Seminole home

Panthers send Seminole home

Portal's David Buchannon, center, dri...

    PORTAL — Every time the Portal Panthers (27-1) got a comfortable lead, Tavis Williams and his 27 points put Seminole County right back in it. But PHS was able to control Williams in the second half as they knocked off the Indians 75-66 to advance to the Sweet 16 of the GHSA Class A state playoffs.
    Portal played tenacious defense forcing 21 turnovers in the contest, but helped SCHS with eight first-half turnovers of their own, freeing Williams and allowing him 17 points over the first two quarters.
    “You can put another ‘UW’ in the column, because that was an ugly win,” said Panther coach Jeff Brannen. “In the first half we came out a little sluggish. Give credit to Seminole (and) Tavius Williams. We knew going in the game he was going to shoot 3’s and penetrate. We gave him too many open looks in the first half, and we made adjustments at halftime to double him and get the ball out of his hands.”
    Leading 33-28 at the half, Portal came out in the third and went on a quick 9-2 run, including six Mario Farris points. The Indians clawed back, sparked by an Edward Moore 3 and a two-handed dunk by Kerry Chrispen, and closed the gap to six, but a pair of Justin Raymond free throws gave the Panthers a 50-42 lead heading into the fourth.
    Williams fouled out with 3:47 to go in the final period, and PHS was able to expose Seminole’s lack of depth to preserve the victory.
    “I think we wore them down because they didn’t have a bench like we did,” said Farris. “We’re a second half team and we got the game going in the third quarter. That’s a big plus — defense. We stepped up on defense.”
    The Indians out-rebounded Portal 26-25, but turnovers and tough defense evened the playing field. The Panthers also shot 27-of-37 from the charity stripe, with David Buchannon scoring 11 of his 25 points at the line.
    Buchannon and Williams set the tone for the game early on.
    After taking the game’s opening tipoff, Buchannon got into the paint and knocked it home for the game’s first bucket just four seconds in. Williams and Buchannon took turns scoring, combining for the game’s first 10 points. Dan Farris, Mario Farris and T.J. Busby joined in on the offensive side, and Portal held an eight-point advantage after a quarter of play.
    “We came out and made a good first run,” said Brannen. “I think we were up 17-9 and (Williams) shot them right back into the game.”
    Seminole bounced right back in the second quarter, shrinking the scoring gap to 25-21, but 3-pointers by Shane Reese and T.J. Busby helped keep Portal ahead for good.
    The Indians never led in the contest.
    Williams’ 27 was a game high, and Bacarri Rambo and Tiawan Donaldson each added eight.
    Buchannon grabbed nine rebounds along with his 25 points, and Mario Farris (14 points) and Busby (11 Points) each reached double digits for the Panthers.
    Portal finds out its Sweet 16 opponent today. They will take on the winner between No. 2 seed Greenville and No. 3 seed Wilcox County. The Panthers last met Wilcox in the 2007 playoffs, knocking them off 73-71 to advance to the second round.
    With a home game secure, Brannen is not concerned with who his Panthers will face on Tuesday.
    “We’ve just got to do what we do,” Brannen said. “We can’t go out and worry about other teams, because I think if we play the style of game we’re capable of playing, teams are going to have to make adjustments to us.”

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

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