For much of the 2013 season, the Portal Panthers have been close to victory, only to see things slip away.
Facing a Savannah Christian squad that they had never beaten before last Friday night, Portal’s Harrison Sherrod wasn’t about to let his team walk away with another near miss.
Sherrod spent most of last week’s game waiting as a last line of defense against Savannah Christian’s potent triple-option attack. When the Raiders had to take to the air to try and get back into the game, it was Sherrod’s pair of interceptions that sealed the win for Portal.
“All of those close losses just kept motivating us,” Sherrod said. “It was disappointing, but that just made us want it more. Everyone played a good game on offense and defense (against Savannah Christian). I know that everyone on defense just wanted to make sure we got the win.”
Sherrod wrestled his first interception away from a Raider receiver early in the fourth quarter. Portal couldn’t extend its 10-7 lead and Savannah Christian had one more chance late in the game. The Raiders drove into Portal territory, but faced fourth down with less than a minute remaining.
A desperation pass flew into the air, but Sherrod positioned himself under the ball and he put the nail in the Raiders’ coffin with his second interception of the night.
“It was great,” Sherrod said. “This win is big for us. I know that we can keep going forward from here.”
Statesboro’s volleyball season came to an end with a loss in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs Tuesday night, but the fledgling program has to be thrilled with where it seems to be headed.
Tess Newton has been a member of the Lady Blue Devils’ squad for two of its three years of existence and is doing her part to build something special. Newton burst onto the scene as a freshman last season and made an immediate impact. This season saw Newton and the Devils take another step in the right direction.
“Everyone has totally committed themselves to learning and improving,” SHS coach Bob Massee said. “We have goals that we’re striving for, but it takes a lot of hard work to achieve those, and that’s what I’ve seen from this team.”
This season saw Statesboro catch fire at just the right moment. Spurred on by Newton and her average of eight kills per match, the Devils reached the state playoffs for the second consecutive season and recorded their first ever match win in the postseason.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished this season,” Massee said. “I truly believe we could have been an Elite Eight team this season. We’re going to get back to work and try to do it again next season.”