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Calvary clubs Portal
Panthers can't comeback on region's top team
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    PORTAL – After surviving their opponent’s 15-3 run at the close of the second quarter, Portal looked like it might jump right back in this thing.
    Trailing Calvary Day by 10 at the break, the Panthers came out of the locker room hot, quickly cutting the visitor’s lead to three thanks to a 9-2 run that delighted the standing-room only crowd.
    But Calvary, the sixth-best team in Class A according to the coaches’ poll, answered with a 9-2 spurt of its own, pushing its lead back to 10 on Cody Padgett’s put-back. The Cavaliers held on from there, escaping Portal with a 60-50 win Friday night.
    “That’s why they are in first place in the region,” PHS coach Jeff Brannen said. “Ending the half on a 15-3 run was a big difference in the ball game. It was a momentum swing even though we fought back.”
    Mario Farris finished with a team-high 15 points for Portal (14-6, 6-3 Region 3-A), while Shane Reese added 11. The Cavaliers (17-3, 8-1 Region 3-A) held Panther star Fred Williams to seven points and just one in the first half. Portal struggled to establish a presence inside against the Cavaliers, who held a considerable height advantage.
    “We stood around on offense too much,” Brannen said. “We started out the game doing well and getting the ball in the paint, but all of a sudden we started settling for long shots.”
    The Panthers pulled within six on a Marquan Jackson 3 with 1:50 to go, but their hopes for an upset were washed away when Farris was hit with an intentional foul while attempting to prevent a Padgett layup. The basket was good, Padgett hit both ensuing free throws and the ball went back to Calvary because of the foul, thus sealing the Panthers’ fate.
    “They are a good ball team,” Brannen said. “They do a good job running their offense, and they’re experienced. They do a good job of getting the ball down low, and they’re hard to score on with their long guys. You have to work so hard to get points.”
    Padgett posted a game-high 22 points, Blake Jones scored 18 and Bubba Green had 12 for the Cavaliers, who advanced to the elite eight in the state playoffs each of the last two years.
    The Panthers were 9-for-16 from the free throw line, while Calvary was 17-for-25. But it was cold shooting in the first half that hurt Portal, which was outscored 15-6 in the second quarter.

Lady Cavaliers 59,
Lady Panthers 40

    The Lady Cavaliers immediately made themselves at home in Portal’s gym, opening the game with a 15-0 run and never looking back on their way to a 59-40 victory.
    The Panthers (3-17, 2-7) struggled offensively and couldn’t stop the Cavaliers along the perimeter where the visitors sunk nine 3s, including six from Natalie Parris, who finished with a game-high 22 points. With the win, Calvary improved to a perfect 9-0 in Region 3-A play and 17-2 overall.
    “We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight,” PHS coach Earl Donaldson said. “We lost the ball game in the first half because we had an opportunity to score and we didn’t. We didn’t handle the ball well, we didn’t execute our press-breaker well and we didn’t box out. We just got outmatched.”
    Kanesha Eason’s late 3 from the left side was Portal’s only first-quarter field goal, and the Cavaliers stretched their lead to 25-12 at the half and 45-21 after three quarters on to back-to-back Parris 3s. Calvary opened the final period with five quick points, taking their largest lead of the game at 50-21 with more than six minutes remaining.
    “We played well defensively in the first half, but then we got into foul trouble and had to play a lot of personnel that hasn’t played that much,” Donaldson said.
    Eason led the Panthers with 12 points, while Bridgett Oglesby added 10.
    The Lady Panthers were without their leading scorer, sophomore shooting guard Sacona Sheffield, who was benched with a knee injury. Portal’s starting point guard Mary Cox left the game early in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and will likely miss tonight’s game, Donaldson said.
    PHS travels to Savannah Country Day today for a 6 p.m. region contest..

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.