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2nd half surge leads Portal to win

    PORTAL — One night after a huge region win, Portal locked up with Bryan County on the hard court.
    Bryan put up a good fight, but a strong third quarter and a big run to begin the fourth spurred the Panthers to a 69-55 win Saturday night.
    “All of our games are important this time of year,” Portal coach Jeff Brannen said. “We did a good job tonight of coming out strong in the second half. We had to just hand in there early on. We finally got some energy and got things going later in the game.”
    A.J. Simmons — who recently transferred in from Statesboro — led the Redskins (8-15, 4-8, Region 2-AA) with 16 points, but four players scored 10 or more for the Panthers (19-3, 7-1 Region 3-A), allowing them to overwhelm Bryan County late in the game.
    Tyler Budgett led all scorers with 17 points and helped Portal to pull away late in the third quarter. Budgett connected on a pair of 3s late in the period and drilled another from behind the arc early in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
    Stacey Morgan scored 16 for the Panthers while Robert Lee and Trent Thomas each netted 12 in the winning effort.
    Saturday’s win  combined with Friday’s victory over Calvary Day ensures that Portal will retain it’s No. 2 spot in the GHSA Class A public school power poll.
    The Panthers have three regular season games — two inside of their region — remaining before trying for their third consecutive region tournament championship.

Lady Panthers 51, Lady Redskins 39
    Portal’s girls got the night off to a good start, downing Bryan County by a count of 51-39.
    Tiffany Harlow scored a career-high 19 for the Panthers (10-12, 3-5 Region 3-A) while Breyonna Raymond netted 14 and Gloria Wiggins pitched in 10 more.
    “(Harlow) had a great night,” Portal coach Cliff Hubbard said. “I think this is something we’ve been building up to. I think we saw what we were capable of (in Friday’s loss to Calvary Day). Tonight, we went out and played like it.”
    Portal controlled things from the start as the Lady Redskins (10-13, 5-7 Region 2-AA) were limited to just two points in the first quarter.
    Harlow poured in six of her points and Raymond added four more as the Panthers built a 27-16 lead at halftime.
    Bryan County never faded away, but the Panthers fostered a healthy lead throughout the second half. Portal was easily able to avenge its 44-41 loss to the Redskins back on Dec. 7.
    Portal’s boys and girls jump back into region play Tuesday as they host Claxton.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.