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Portal preps for powerful Wilcox County Patriots
Mario Farris and the Portal Panthers will play in Portal’s first home playoff game under coach Jeff Brannen on Saturday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file
    Saturday at 7 p.m. the Portal Panthers will welcome Wilcox County, one of Class A’s top 10 teams boasting a 21-5 record. Does that make the homestanding Panthers an underdog?
    “I told our boys everybody’s 0-0,” said Portal coach Jeff Brannen. “Every team is a good team so we’re just going to have to go out and play.”
    It’ll be the second top 10 team in as many games for PHS (21-8) who lost to Calvary Day in the region 3-A tournament Championship last Saturday.
    “I think we’re doing pretty good,” said Brannen of his team’s psyche. “We get to host a state playoff game. Since I’ve been here we’ve never done that. I told them that they have a chance to do something special.”
    The Patriots will bring in a team with exceptional guard play and a stiff zone defense, which Brannen said the Panthers haven’t seen much of this season.
    Portal will have to be more patient on offense and make the boys from Rochelle work for their shots to advance to the round of 16 at Savannah State.
    “Mainly, we’ll have to play our game,” said Brannen. “Hopefully, teams will have to adjust to us. We could have some trouble with their guards, we’re just going to have to do a good job of switching defenses and keeping them off balance. We can’t give them too many open looks.”
    Wilcox gained region 2’s three seed with a win over Hawkinsville in the region 2-A tournament consolation game.