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Panthers split with Treutlen County
Portal boys use explosive third quarter for win
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    TWIN CITY — It was a tale of two halves for the Portal Panthers Thursday afternoon on Day 2 of the Emanuel County Institute Christmas Tournament. The Panthers (9-2) exploded for 29 third-quarter points, opening the pivotal frame on a 19-2 run to beat Treutlen County 80-64.
    “The third quarter was excellent,” said PHS head coach Jeff Brannen. “That’s probably one of the best quarters we’ve played all year long. I thought we did an excellent job of sharing the ball. Everybody was touching the ball on the offensive end and everyone was involved.”
    Portal got four quick points from point guard Marquan Jackson to start the third, forcing the Vikings of Treutlen to call a timeout. But it would only get worse from there for TCHS, as shooting guard Shane Reese hit back-to-back 3s to put the Panthers up by 11. Treutlen didn’t hit its first bucket until 3:42 into the quarter, and by then it was already too late.
    “We had to step it up on defense and pick our game up,” said senior Fred Williams. Williams scored a game-high 27 points and pulled down nine rebounds. He was also 9-for-11 from the free throw line. “We did a pretty good job of that (in the second half). We moved the ball around and got some pretty easy baskets.”
    Portal would outscore Treutlen 29-10 in the third, shooting 65 percent, making three 3s and two three-point plays. They also held Kendrick Jordan, who scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half, scoreless over those eight minutes.
    Treutlen held its own in the first half and gave the Panthers fits slicing through Portal’s attempt at a 1-2-2 halfcourt trap. Once Treutlen’s guards pushed the ball across the timeline, they’d quickly swing it down low to Jordan, whose 18 first-half points came mostly on easy lay-ups.
    “I was a little disappointed in our defense,” said Brannen. “Treutlen came out and they got a lot of easy looks and scored a lot of points in the paint. I just told them (at halftime) that we gotta buckle down on defense and that’ll get our offense going. We just put too much emphasis on offense in the first half.”
    Portal was just 4-for-11 in the first quarter and even gave up consecutive buzzer beaters to end both the first and second periods. Frank Williams hit a 3 from the left wing to end the first quarter with a bang and Nathon Mason followed that with a 3 to end the scoring before halftime, making the margin 37-36.
    Jackson finished with 16 points for the Panthers while Thomas Busby finished with nine on three 3-pointers. Junior forward Mario Farris struggled for the Panthers, scoring 15 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Farris brought in nine boards before fouling out in the fourth quarter for the second time in two days.
    The Panthers return to ECI today to face Metter for a 2:30 p.m. tip-off. Treutlen will square off against Statesboro at 5:30 p.m.

Lady Vikings 70,
Lady Panthers 34
    It was not a good day for the Lady Panthers of Portal. After a gritty performance on Day 1 against East Laurens, PHS came out on Day 2 against Treutlen County and was out of it before the first quarter ended.
    The Lady Vikings (7-0) used a feisty defense and fast guard play to run right past Portal, 70-34, for their second win at the Christmas Tournament. Portal head coach Earl Donaldson was less than pleased.
    “The girls did not play up to my expectations, especially some of the seniors,” said Donaldson. “They made to many mental errors. I’m not too upset about the score, but we made so many errors without thinking. I just asked the girls to go out there and do what they’re taught. They went out there today and did just the opposite.”
    The Lady Panthers’ first field goal didn’t come until the 1:09 mark of the first quarter. It was a Kanesha Eason lay-up that made the score 20-3.
    Guards Denae Orphey (eight) and Sherlonda Anderson (10) did most of the scoring for TCHS during the first quarter onslaught. Beyonka Fuqua would come off the bench to lead all scorers with 17.
    Treutlen led 37-14 at halftime and used the second half to work in some depth. Eason finished with 14 for the Lady Panthers and Bridgett Oglseby added 11.
    “They’re going to have to recover,” said Donaldson. “If not I’m going to have to take up some uniforms from the ones who can’t follow directions and do it the right way. There’s a right way and a wrong way, and the girls have to look in the mirror and re-evaluate themselves.”

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912)-489-9404.