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Prep hoops teams storming down the stretch
Portal Basketball
Portal's Amir Jackson, top, swats a shot attempt by Savannah Classical Academy's T. Lamar during the second quarter on Tuesday, Jan. 31. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

As our area high school basketball teams continue to try and get in good position for their upcoming region tournaments some teams have taken a step forward, while others have taken a step back. 

The No. 3 ranked Portal Panthers played a boys only game Tuesday against Savannah Classical Academy and breezed to a 90-30 victory in a game in which the starters played less than a half of basketball as coach Jeff Brannen sat his starters late in the second and did not play them the rest of the game.

“I thought the first group came out and really shot the ball well,” said Brannen. “With them building such a big lead that gave the other guys a chance to play. We have been preaching to them that you always have to be ready and we know we are going to need some help down the stretch. I feel pretty good about our seven-man rotation, but I would love to be able to go eight or nine deep especially by the playoffs.” 

Highlighting the win was junior Amir Jackson scoring his 1,000-career point. Jackson did it in style as he took a pass from just across half court from Elijah Coleman and dunked it for an alley-oop. Jackson joins teammates Joseph Thomas and Coleman who both passed the 1,000-carer mark earlier this year in a rare feat especially considering all players are juniors. 

“We were happy to be able to get Amir in there to get his 1000 point,” Brannen said. “He has really put in a lot of hard work and continue to improve. To have three players to score 1,000 points and they all still have another year to play is incredible and they have such a strong bond as they all came in here together as freshmen and they are hoping to make a deep run in the state this year too.” 

Portal was led by Coleman with 20 points while Jackson added 12 points. Portal improves to 20-1 on the season and will next host McIntosh County Academy Friday with the girls starting things off at 6:00. 

The Statesboro Blue Devils were swept on the road at Greenbrier with the boys losing 58-54 and the girls lost 54-47. In the boys game Leslie Black led the way with 18 points while James Flagg had 12, Nick Murray had 11 and Kam Mikell added 10 points. The Blue Devils drop to 14-6 overall and 5-3 in region play. 

The Statesboro girls were led by Ashari Washington with 16 points, Alyssa Staten with 15 points and 18 rebounds and Reya Johnson with 11 points. The loss drops the Blue Devils to 17-6 overall and 5-3 in region play. Up next Statesboro travels to Ware County Friday for a 6:00 start. 

The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets split a pair of games at home Tuesday against Burke County. The boys won 77-66 while the girls fell 65-40. Ansleigh Littles led the way for the girls with 16 points as SEB dropped to 8-10 and 3-4 in region play. The boys were led by Collin Smith with 25 points. Zach Wells had 19 and Ryon Reed added 16 points. SEB improves to 8-14 and 3-6 in region play. Up next the Jackets host Wayne County Friday at 6:00. 

The Bulloch Academy Gators split a pair of games Tuesday with the girls winning 67-45 and the boys losing 67-41. Armani Cooke had 25 points to lead the Gators while Ashantay Noble had 16 points and Sophie Strickland added 13. The Gators improve to 17-6 overall and 7-0 in region play. The boys fall to 7-16 and 1-6. Next up Bulloch Academy hosts Pinewood for senior night Friday at 6:00.