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A hometown barn burner
Statesboro holds off Portal in overtime
Statesboro's Jaylan Patrick, left, and Portal's Malik Williams battle for a loose ball in the fourth quarter on Friday at Statesboro High. Statesboro led most of the way and held on to win 65-62 in overtime. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    In a heated battle of county rivals, four quarters of action just wasn’t enough.
    Portal gave Statesboro a run for its money on its home floor, but the Blue Devils were able to escape with a 65-62 overtime victory Friday night.
    A back-and-forth game saw six players reach double-digit scoring — three for each team — but it was Statesboro (3-1) that nursed a slight edge through most of the extra period and came out on top.
    “It was a great game with a great atmosphere,” SHS coach Lee Hill said. “We’re a very young team, but we grew up a lot tonight. It’s tough to execute and win in that sort of pressure, but we had guys step up and find a way.”
    One of those young guys who stepped up was Jaylan Patrick.
    Although Patrick is a junior, he’s in his first season as a starter for the Devils. Patrick put up a game-high 23 points, including a 3-pointer to begin the overtime period and set the tone for the Devils’ final push.
    Things started out much easier for Statesboro as it began the game on a 7-0 run.
    Portal (1-1) didn’t score its first points until midway through the period, but a spark quickly turned into an explosion as a 10-3 run helped the Panthers pull even after the first eight minutes.
    Trent Thomas (20 points) put his team on his back early on. The senior forward continued to make big shots throughout the game, but played most of the fourth quarter and all of overtime with four fouls, minimizing his ability to contribute defensively.
    Statesboro’s entire frontcourt shared Thomas’ foul trouble, but Michael Salomon (13 points), Cameron Harvey and Myles White were able to play effective defense late while also avoiding whistles.
    “That’s a smart team,” Hill said. “We had to play hard, but we also had to play smart. It was a real growing experience.”
    Portal took a 23-19 lead into halftime and led through much of the second half – though never by more than two possessions.
    Akeem Oglesby (11 points) erased some late Portal turnovers with a 3-pointer to knot the score at 46-46 with just over three minutes to play. Oglesby again pulled Portal back into the game, weaving through the entire SHS defense for a layup with 14 seconds to play in regulation to make it 50-50 and send the game into overtime.
    Statesboro held the upper hand for much of the extra period, but Thomas connected on his only 3 of the night to draw the Panthers even with just over a minute to play.
    Portal had possession with a chance to take the lead inside the final minute, but misfired on its final three attempts from the field. Statesboro was able to put the game away from the free throw line as Jarrious Mikell and Deionte Reddick each hit a pair from the charity stripe to put the game out of reach.
    “These are the games you like to play,” Hill said. “We had a great crowd and a great opponent. We gave it a great effort and we’re happy to have the win.”
    The Panthers will likely be stinging for a while over the loss, but will get a chance for revenge next week as the Blue Devils invade Portal for a rematch.

Lady Devils 55, Lady Panthers 17
    Friday night’s first game didn’t provide nearly as much drama as Statesboro’s girls jumped out to a big lead in the opening minutes and cruised to a 55-17 victory.
    The Lady Blue Devils (3-3) carried a 14-0 through the first quarter, led 30-6 at halftime, and never allowed Portal (0-2) to gain any traction.
    “We got the job done,” SHS coach Jeff Seier said. “We didn’t play our best and we were a little sloppy at times. That’s something that you see early in the season and work to eliminate as the season goes on.”
    Tanice Johnson led Statesboro with 11 points, but the real damage resulted from a solid team effort as 11 different Devils put points on the board.
    The win marked the second consecutive blowout of a county rival for Statesboro as the Devils had taken care of Southeast Bulloch just before Thanksgiving.
    Chandalier Morgan led the Lady Panthers with six points and was one of just two Portal players to connect more than once from the field.
    Both Portal squads return to action tonight with a home doubleheader against Wheeler County. Statesboro will head to Liberty County for a pair of road games.

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