PORTAL — The Portal boys basketball team continued its hot start to the season on Tuesday evening. Senior forward Fred Williams stole the show, scoring 22 points as the Panthers ran past Metter for a 57-46 victory.
Portal was quick out of the gate, using speed to their advantage. The Panthers forced turnovers on three of Metter's first four possessions, turning all of the turnovers into fast break points and spotting themselves a 10-2 lead which they would never relinquish.
The Tigers were able to hang around throughout the night, but were never able to get the momentum in their favor. Every time Metter was able to hit a shot, Portal was right there to answer.
Despite their defensive efforts, MHS simply could not slow down the potent Panther attack, which seemed to be dropping buckets from every direction. Led by Williams, seven different Panthers got on the board in the first half to lead Portal to a 28-15 edge at the half.
"We were able to jump out early, but we also have to take care of the ball," remarked Portal coach Jeff Brannen, who was not entirely pleased with his team's performance. "We've got to learn to finish games. We let teams hang in there a little too long."
Both teams came flying out of the locker room to begin the second half. Metter guards Terrance Collins and Geoffrey Thurman continually wove through the Portal defense, Collins scoring down low while Thurman added a couple of 3-pointers.
Not to be outdone, however, the Portal offense proved it was game. The two teams flew up and down the court, constantly scoring in transition and rarely missing open looks.
In the end, Portal would prove to be too much for the Tigers. Led by Williams and Shane Reese, who combined for 20 of the Panthers' 29 second-half points, Portal was able to keep the lead at a safe margin, coasting its way through the final minutes for the victory.
With the win, Portal improves its record to 4-0 on the season. The Panthers will begin region play on Friday night as they play host to Bryan County.
Metter 43, Portal 40
The Metter girl's team proved on Tuesday night it really doesn't matter how you start games, as long as you know how to finish them. Faced with a nine-point deficit with just over four minutes remaining, the Lady Tigers were able to pull off a comeback victory, defeating Portal by a score of 43-40
Things weren't always looking so bright for the Lady Tigers, however. Going up against an athletic Portal defense, Metter had trouble finding any open shots early. After a quick score to begin the game, the Lady Tigers had six straight possessions in which they could not get a shot off.
The Lady Panthers took full advantage, racing to a 14-4 lead at the end of the opening quarter. Beginning the second quarter, it was more of the same. Portal employed a full-court press, harassing the ball handlers and forcing 13 turnovers before the break.
Metter refused to give in however, eventually finding its rhythm and clawing back within a 23-21 deficit at the half.
"It's hard when you come out slow like that," said Metter coach Dwayne Davis following the game. "I'm proud of our girls though. They played hard and we were finally able to get it all together to pull out the win."
The two teams battled neck and neck throughout the second half. Portal refused to give up its lead, but the Lady Tigers would not stop fighting. Things looked to be settled midway through the final quarter when the Lady Panthers extended their lead to 40-31 on a Jakeisia Coleman lay up.
The Metter defense clamped down from there, employing a press of its own and repeatedly forcing turnovers. Led by guard Alayana Davis, who led all scorers with 13 points, the Lady Tigers were able to make it a one- possession game.
With 53 seconds remaining, Metter guard Tess Fordham came up with a steal and layed it home, completing the comeback while giving Metter its first and only lead of the game. Two free throws extended the lead to 43-40, and the Metter defense was able to force one final turnover to secure the win.
"We didn't execute well down the stretch." said Portal coach Earl Donaldson of the loss. "We missed on some opportunities, but I am encouraged by the fact that we got better tonight. We've been playing a lot of AA opponents, so I think that we will be better off for it when we begin region play."
Tuesday night's win is the first for Metter on the young season. With the loss, Portal drops to 0-4.