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Portal out for revenge

Panthers head to Elite Eight

    The Terrell County Greenwave (19-3) wants to do what nobody else in Class A has been able to do all season. They want to beat the Portal Panthers.
    Portal (28-1) is set to take on TCHS today at 5 p.m. at Columbus State University in the Elite Eight of the GHSA Class A State Tournament.
    It is familiar territory for both teams, as Terrell was actually the last team from the classification to beat the Panthers. Incidentally, it happened in the Elite Eight of last year’s state playoffs.
    “Some of the guys talked about it (yesterday), how we’re more experienced (this year),” Brannen said. “I think last year, we were just happy to be there. This year, I think we’re more focused. If we made it that far last year, we’re ready to go a little farther.”
    Terrell County handled the Panthers the last time the two teams met, knocking them off 58-39 a year ago to advance to the final four. Since then, PHS has been on a tear, cruising through the regular season and grabbing the region 3-A Championship while dominating on both sides of the court.
    “Right now we’re very confident,” said Brannen after PHS knocked off Emanuel County 65-49 to claim the No. 1 seed out of the region on Feb. 16. “We played some good teams, and it’s prepared us for this. Hopefully we’ll continue to play well.”
    The Panthers are led by David Buchannon, who is averaging 25 points-per-game so far in the state playoffs. He is complimented by guards T.J. Busby and Shane Reese, who found his stroke against Wilcox County in the Sweet 16, going 3-for-3 from behind the arc on his way to 13 points.
    Mario Farris has put up a double-double in three out of the four playoff games so far, including pulling down 20 rebounds against Calvary Day in the region semifinals.
    The Greenwave like to play a fast-paced, full-court game, something that the Panthers are all too familiar with.
    “They run 12 in and 12 out,” said Brannen. “They want to press and up-tempo the game. The main thing we’ve got to do is control the tempo. I think that’s our style of play too, but we’ve got to be smart and slow it down — take advantage of our low post play and get the ball inside.
    “They want to come out and play 84 feet. They want to press and play man-to-man. They want you to get into just a controlled chaos, running up and down the court.”
    With a win, Portal will advance to the Final Four in Macon  on Wednesday. They’ll play the winner between Hancock Central, the No. 2 seed out of Region 7-A and Whitefield Academy, the No. 2 seed out of Region 5-A.

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

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