The Portal Panthers had some talented seniors last season, but missed out on the state tournament as they went 14-12. This year Panther head coach Jeff Brannen will have to hope his inexperienced team can gell quickly if they want to make it back to the state for the first time in two years.
The Panthers lost seven seniors, and only return two players with real playing experience in seniors Dax Reddick and Brian Ware. Reddick averaged eight points per game, and Ware only six per contest, numbers that have to go up significantly according to Brannen, if the Panthers are to be successful.
“We are going to have to get about 30 points per game total from Brian and Dax this year,” Brannen said. “We will slowly get some of our other players numbers up, but for us to have success those two guys are going to have to score.”
“We are trying to develop some chemistry quickly,” Brannen said. “Dorian Mosely is a tenth grader who missed last year, but he’s got some talent, and Fred Spells is 6-6 junior and is coming off missing last year with a broken leg. Tony Coleman is a senior who hasn’t played for us, but he has some potential, and Chadley Sheffied is a big body who can help us inside.”
The good thing for the Panthers this season is with the exception of Treutlen County, the rest of the region lost a lot of players from a year ago, and could be wide open.
“I think we have a pretty good combination of shooters, and post players,” Brannen said. “You don’t see a lot of Class-A schools with height, and shooters, so I’m hoping that will play to our advantage.”
The Portal girl’s basketball team took a step in the right direction last season. This year coach Huey Williams is hoping the Lady Panthers can make that next step, and compete for a region title.
“We are bringing our core girls back, and they had a little success last year,” Williams said. “I feel good about them being able to hit the ground running a little more this year.”
The Panthers return three starters from a year ago, including senior center Keely Thomas. The Panthers also return junior point guard Destiny Brown, and sophomore Akela Williams.
“Keely is a four year starter, and we are counting on her a lot this year,” Williams said. “Destiny is pretty solid at point guard, and Akela showed she could play as a freshman, so she should be even better this season.”
“I feel like our strength is our team speed,” Williams said. “I feel like we can run the break, and we are quick on defense, which will really benefit us against some of the teams in our region.’
The Panthers open the 2019-20 season Tuesday on the road at Toombs County. The home schedule starts Friday as they host Bryan County, with the girls starting things off at 6:00.