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Panthers win thriller over rival SEB
PHS girls roll
Portal's David Buchannon (25) knifes through the Southeast Bulloch defense while drawing a foul and a chance for a three-point play in the first quarter of Tuesday's game at Portal.

    PORTAL — Despite four lead changes in the final quarter, the Portal Panthers (1-0)  were able to pull away and knock off the visiting Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets (0-2) 65-59 in the PHS season opener.
    Senior transfer David Buchannon knocked in 17 points and added four each of rebounds and assists with five steals and Mario Farris added 16 points and nine rebounds in the winning effort.
    Yellow Jacket Tony Raymond led all scorers with 24 points, and his 10 rebounds gave him the game’s only double-double. He also racked up six assists.
    SEB trailed until the third quarter when Marcus Smith knotted things up with a 3-pointer on a Raymond assist. Southeast took the lead on its next possession when Raymond fed Arsenio Wright for a 3.
    The game went back and fourth until Portal’s Justin Raymond grabbed a steal and fed Steven Cox whose layup gave the Panthers a 55-54 lead from which the Jackets would never recover.
    Southeast Bulloch trailed early, putting up only five points in the first quarter and trailed 16-5 heading into the second, but was able to tie the game with 2:33 to go until halftime on four consecutive free throws by Tony Raymond. Portal took a 30-26 lead into the locker room on the strength of a Cox steal and a layup and a three-point play by Buchannon.
    “We kind of struggled,” said Portal coach Jeff Brannen. “You have to give Southeast Bulloch credit. They played us tough and battled all night long. You could tell  it was our first game.”
    Free throws kept SEB in the game for most of the night. The Jackets out-scored PHS19-14 from the foul line, but the Panthers were 10-of-12 in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.
    “I was proud of the way we responded in the fourth quarter,” said Brannen. “we turned up the pressure a little bit and got a couple of easy baskets which kind of turned the momentum a little bit. I was proud of my guys and the way they stepped up and hit their free throws when it mattered.”
    The Jackets host Statesboro on Community Day at their new facility in Brooklet Saturday at 6 p.m. and Portal will be back in action Tuesday at SEB.

Lady Panthers 53,
Lady Yellow Jackets 31
    Portal’s Jalesia Coleman led all scorers with 14 points as the Lady Panthers (2-0) knocked off the visiting Southeast Bulloch Lady Yellow Jackets 53-31.
    The Panthers took the early lead jumping ahead 18-9 in the first quarter. They increased the halftime lead to 39-19 and did not look back.
    Statesboro transfer Cassandra McBride was leading all scorers with 11 points midway through the third quarter when she took a spill near the concrete wall near the entrance to the gym.
    “She just twisted her ankle. It’s a minor thing,” said Portal coach Earl Donaldson. “She’ll put some ice on it for a couple of days, and she’ll be ready to go.”
    The Panthers never looked back as the SEB deficit grew to 22 before the final buzzer.
    “We are a small, upbeat team that can fast break up and down the court,” said Donaldson, “and play man-to-man defense all over the floor. we did that tonight, and it worked out for us.”

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