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Portal boys win big
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    PORTAL — The Portal Panthers took on the Jenkins County Eagles in a double-header on Friday, and while the Lady Panthers could not soar with the Eagles, the boys cruised to an easy 76-53 win to cap off the night.
    Fred Williams led all scorers with 30 points, 11 of which came in the first quarter as he knocked down nine of the squad’s first 11 points.
    It was a game of runs for both teams, but the Panthers offense would prove to be too much for the Eagle defense to handle.
    After jumping out to an early 11-5 lead, the Eagles clawed their way back, moving ahead 13-11.  The Panthers responded with a run of their own, putting together a 10-1 run to end the quarter.  
    Portal began to pull away in the second quarter, hitting the lockers with a 35-19 halftime lead.
    “We had some spots in the game, particularly the beginning, when we didn’t play an aggressive style of defense,” said Portal head coach Jeff Brannen.  “We let Jenkins County come down, control the ball and get easy looks. In the second quarter we dug in and played harder defense.  We played hard right there before halftime.”
    Although Portal had trouble from the foul line, sinking only one of its seven first-half free throws, the Eagles helped them out by turning the ball over five times and sinking only eight of their 26 first-half shots.  The Panthers also out-rebounded the Eagles in the first half 16-7.
    Jenkins County came out of the locker room on fire with big man Keonte Gross leading the way.  Gross scored six points and earned an assist in the early third quarter 8-0 run that closed the gap to 35-26.  Coach Brannen called a time out to get his team back on track.
    “They came within nine, then we responded.  We hit a couple of shots and we played better defense,” said the Panther’s coach.
    After Coach Brannen’s time out, the Panthers stormed ahead on a 9-2 run.  The quarter would end with a comfortable 50-37 Portal lead.
    The Panthers continued to widen the gap in the fourth quarter as the Eagles went into desperation mode.  JCHS guard Kenneth Scott and forward Keonte Gross attempted to take matters into their own own hands, but although they combined for 10 fourth-quarter points it would not be enough.
    Portal out-rebounded Jenkins County 27-20, and turned the ball over 17 times to JCHS’s 20, but were able to capitalize more on those turnovers.  Portal’s Ryan Williams led all defenders with three blocks.
    With the 76-53 win over Jenkins County, Portal moved to 4-1 in Region 3-A and 11-2 for the season.

Lady Eagles 51,
Lady Panthers 27
    The Lady Panthers would not fare nearly as well as the boys, as they fell to the Jenkins County Lady Eagles by a score of 51-27.
    The Portal girls (2-11) kept it close in the first half, trailing Jenkins County by a score of 19-18.  The one-point gap never closed as the Lady Eagles started off the second half on a 6-2 run. 
    The game was still in reach until the fourth quarter.  Trailing by only nine points at the end of the third, the Lady Panthers scored only five fourth-quarter points.
    The free-throw line would prove to be Portal’s downfall in the contest, as both teams seemed to rack up fouls.  The teams combined for 29 first-half fouls and 48 overall. The Lady Panthers shot only 5 of 14 from the free-throw line in the first half, and 6 of 19 overall.  JCHS held the lead by going 11 of 22 from the charity stripe in the first half, and sealed the victory by scoring 15 of their points from the line. JCHS hopes to build on the win. 
    “We cut down greatly on the turnovers.  When you cut down on turnovers and go back to fundamentals, you can start being successful,” said Jenkins County head coach Randy Cooper.  “I am pleased with the effort.”
    Portal will face another double-header today at 6 p.m. as they travel to ECI.