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Portal splits a pair with MCA
Portal Basketball
Portal's Elijah Coleman gets behind the McIntosh County defense for a forceful dunk during a third quarter scoring run on Tuesday, Feb. 9. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

The Portal Panthers split a pair of games Wednesday in their regular season finale as the boys knocked off McIntosh County Academy 69-47 while the Lady Panthers fell to the Lady Bucs 53-37.

In the boy's game the Panthers had spurts where they looked like they may be able to contend for a state title. The “big three” of sophomores Amir Jackson, Elijah Coleman and Joseph Thomas put on a show at the end of the third quarter. It started with a high-flying dunk from the 5-9 Coleman, followed by a monster dunk in transition from Jackson who leapt just a few feet inside the free throw. Thomas then brought the crowd to their feet for a third time burying a long three pointer.

“That stretch right there and a few others is what makes this team so fun to watch and yet frustrating too,” said coach Jeff Brannen. “We know what they are capable of but they seem to just play in spurts. What we need out of those three is consistent play with all three of them locked in.”

The trio accounted for 51 of the Panthers 69 points Tuesday night with Jackson leading the way with 21 points including a perfect 7-7 from the line and 14 rebounds. Coleman came through with 18 and Thomas added 13 points. 

The Bucs hung around for most of the first half before the Panthers went on a 10-2 run in the second quarter to grab a 30-21 lead at the half. In the second half the Panthers maintained an 8–10-point lead until the sequence of the dunks and the Thomas three pointer extended the lead to 56-36 and the Panthers cruised from there.

“We are much better in transition when we are running off steals, we create with our defense,” said Brannen. “I hope we remember that and stay involved on the defensive end of the floor. We want to repeat as region champions and hopefully we can keep it going in the tournament next week.”

The win improves the Panthers record to 14-7 overall and 11-3 in region play. Up next the Panthers will travel to Claxton as they open the region tournament next Friday night at a yet to be determined time. Portal earned the No. 2 seed and a bye into the region semifinals and are assured of advancing to the state playoffs.

The Portal Lady Panthers have struggled to close games lately and Wednesday was more of the same for coach Huey Williams. Portal actually led 10-2 at the end of the first quarter and had a 14-13 halftime lead. The game remained tight for most of the third quarter, but the Bucs pulled away going on a 17-2 run and went on to win 53-37.

“I really thought we came out and executed the game plan for most of the first half, and about haf of the third quarter,” said Williams. “We gave up some easy baskets at the end of the third and things kind of snowballed there in the fourth quarter.”

Shaneisha Coleman led the Panthers with 15 points while Jerrica Bryant led the Bucs with 20 points. Portal ends the regular season with a record of 3-17 overall and 2-12 in region play. The Panthers are the No. 7 seed in the region tournament and and will play ECI in the opening round Tuesday at Claxton at a yet to be determined time.