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Panthers, Screven girls win in prep hoops
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    PORTAL — The Portal Panthers got their seventh straight win to start the season Tuesday night, but it wasn't easy. Every time PHS pulled away, the visiting Gamecocks of Screven County fought right back. It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter when the Panthers finally put the game away for a 79-65 win.
    "You have to give Screven County credit," said Portal head coach Jeff Brannen. "We'd make a run and then they'd make a run. We didn't get too comfortable until the last three or four minutes."
    The Panthers (7-0) had a nine-point lead at halftime and stretched it to 14 after a Marquan Jackson lay-up and a Mario Farris free throw on consecutive possessions. But SCHS (3-5) clawed its way back and Desmond Campfield's 3-pointer cut Portal's lead to seven. It would be eight going into the fourth.
    "They're a very good team," said Screven head coach Arthur Davis. "When we made our little run, they'd settle down and keep everything under control."
    After a Jackson steal and assist to Thomas Busby made the Portal lead 63-53 with 6:40 left, it was left up to senior Fred Williams to close out Screven County. He stepped up with an exclamation point.
    Williams (the Panthers having whittled the clock down to 2:08) took the ball on the far side of the court, made a move around his defender on the baseline, and went in for a one-handed, up-and-under jam to demoralize the Gamecocks and seal the victory.
    "I know I was looking for it all night," said Williams, a senior. But Williams added that Screven's grittiness to stay in the game was hard, and that at halftime the players had a talk and determined it was time to step up on defense.
    "It feels good," he added of the win. "Coming out and beating a AA school. We played good. We had a lot of emotion. We was talking, they was talking, we're all friends. We all good peeps."
    Williams finished with a game-high 27 points, despite being shutout in the third quarter. He was 9-for-11 from the line and hit two 3s. Fellow forward Mario Farris added 21 and eight rebounds, while point guard Marquan Jackson had 16.
    "I thought we played in spurts and played well on offense," said Brannen. "We did well of finishing and when we needed to get stops in the fourth quarter, we did."
    After trading buckets in the first few minutes, Portal went on a 7-0 run, all of which came from Williams. But 3s from  Antrjuan Albright and Jamey Colbert put Screven back within one, and Dajuwan Carter's free throw tied the score at 13. The first quarter would end in a 19-19 tie.
    The second quarter began with a Mario Farris intentional foul, but even that couldn't put the Gamecocks over the hump. They would cut the Portal lead to 34-32 with 1:13 left in the half, but Williams would answer with a 3 and two free throws and Screven never got as close again.
    Portal was 23-for-30 from the charity stripe for the game while Screven County was just 5-for-10. Albright and Carter finished with 13 each while Matt Taylor added 12 and five rebounds. Portal had 18 turnovers to Screven's had 16.

Lady Gamecocks 53, Lady Panthers 18
    The Lady Panthers of Portal looked like they were going to shock Screven County Tuesday night — but then the first quarter ended. With an 8-6 lead after one, PHS would score just 10 more points as SCHS used a suffocating defense to force 31 turnovers and rout Portal 53-18
    "We were a little fatigued, we had a hard practice (Monday)," said Jennifer Acree, Screven's head coach. "I wasn't surprised (at the slow start)."
    The Lady Gamecocks held Portal scoreless in the second quarter, going on a 15-0 run to take a 21-8 lead into the locker room. Screven then outscored Portal 32-10 in the second half to continue its undefeated season (8-0).
    "Even though we're undefeated we still haven't played a great game of basketball. We wanted to work in this game with ball movement, actually moving the ball and getting better shots."
    With the Panthers running a 2-3 zone, Symphony White broke Portal down by continually streaking through the lane. White scored all of her seven points in the second quarter and was the catalyst to to the SCHS win. Kadedra Evans scored a game-high 12 and pulled down 10 rebounds, followed by Kiki Warren's nine. Sacona Sheffield led Portal (1-7) with eight points in the losing effort.
    Screven County returns to the court Friday when they travel to Effingham County. Portal will take to the road as well, traveling to Savannah to face region foe Calvary Day.