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Panthers tomahawk Bryan County
Portal over 90 for second straight game
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    PORTAL — The Portal Panthers (15-1, 7-0 Region 3-A) got off to another slow start, falling behind early to the visiting Bryan County Redskins. But an explosive third quarter surged PHS to a 90-44 victory — its seventh-straight region win — Friday night.
    Mario Farris led all scorers with 22 points and added 10 rebounds for a double-double. David Buchannon added 18 points and nine assists, T.J. Busby added 16 and Justin Raymond grabbed nine rebounds to complement his eight points.
    Although they led 41-21 at the half, the Panthers missed their last seven shot attempts of the first quarter and trailed 15-12 heading into the second. Portal only grabbed three offensive rebounds in the first.
    “We still didn’t come out ready to play in the first quarter,” said Portal coach Jeff Brannen. “They stayed around with us and tried to shoot some long ones. … What we should have done from the beginning of the game was establish the inside and try to get everybody in a rhythm.
    “We were taking the first open shot. We weren’t working the ball around to get in a rhythm. It was one pass and shoot. We were out of position to get the offensive rebound, and we can’t do that. If you’ve got a size advantage down low, you’ve got to take your time and get the big guys involved.”
    The Panthers went on a 12-4 run to start the second, and finished it with 16-straight points.
    Portal opened the flood gates in a 34-point third, in which it out-rebounded BCHS 16-3.
    At one point, PHS knocked down three-consecutive 3-pointers from Busby, Buchannon and Shane Reese, and allowed only 13 points to the Redskins. Farris scored eight of his 22 in the period, which was highlighted defensively by his two blocks.
    “We took our time in the third quarter and got the ball inside,” Brannen said. “I though overall there in the third quarter we came out and established the inside and we played better.”
    Brannen was once again able to get his bench some minutes in the fourth quarter, and saw points from Michael Reese, Chris Sapp, Jordan Hall and Nick Prescott, who finished the game with eight.

Lady Panthers 51, Lady Redskins 35
    The Portal Lady Panthers (9-8, 3-4 Region 3-A) out-scored the visiting Bryan County lady Redskins 27-19 from the foul line, and — in a game that saw 61 fouls called between the two squads — a foul-shot contest is probably the best description of Friday night’s contest.
    The Panthers finished 27-for-51 from the charity stripe, while BCHS was 19-38. The teams were a combined 51-percent from the line, totaling 89 attempts.
    “The referees were pretty good, they were fair,” said PHS assistant Olivia Stearcke. “The game was pretty ugly. You cannot miss (24) free throws in a game. We’ve got to work on that. In a game like this, it’s okay, but in a game that comes down to free throws, we’ve got to make them. We cannot miss that many free throws.”
    The game started out as a rebounding contest, as Bryan County started off 1-for-10 from the floor and Portal was 1-for-8. The Redskins out-rebounded the Panthers 9-6 in the first quarter, but trailed 6-4 heading into the second. The Panthers were 4-for-6 from the line.
    Portal head coach Earl Donaldson was not happy with the lack of intensity he saw out of his squad.
    “We went to the free-throw line about (51) times,” said the Panther coach. “We only made (27). We’ve got to step it up. I think it’s a mental thing. We beat (Bryan County) earlier this season by 22 points and the girls didn’t get up for them. We’ve got a big game at Claxton (today). We’ll use this game as a wake-up call.”
    Kanesha Eason led PHS with 11 points — five from the foul line — and grabbed six boards. Jalesia Coleman added 10 points and eight rebounds. Ashleigh Simmons led the Redskins with nine. All of Bryan County’s Tara Miles’ seven points came from fouls.
    The Lady Panthers look to even out their region record at Claxton today. The girls tip off at 6 p.m. followed by the boys.

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