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Byrd leads Metter past Portal
Portal's Devante Williams, center, gets the squeeze put on him by Metter's James Gunn, left, and Jordan Deloach during the first quarter Friday.

PORTAL — The Portal Panthers got off to a fast start, but Metter’s Devin Byrd took control in the second quarter and never let go.
    The senior, who was moved to the point for the first time this season under first-year coach Dwayne Davis, scored 14 of his game-high 17 points in the first half and finished with eight rebounds and four assists as the Tigers handed Portal its first loss of the season to the tune of 72-48 Friday in the new PHS gym.
    “He’s a blessing to have on the team,” Davis said of Byrd. “I think any coach would be happy to have him with his talent and athletic ability. Being a first year coach with these guys, we’re still trying to learn a new system offensively and defensively. I’m asking a lot out of him to play the point.”
    Portal (4-1) got the upper hand early, as Jamie Hagins shot the lights out in the first half. The senior shooting guard was 4 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half, and a pair of first-quarter 3s led the Panthers to an early advantage.
    The Tigers (5-1) committed six turnovers to Portal’s one in the first quarter, and shot just 4 of 15 from the free throw line in the first half.
    Portal reached its largest lead when Hagins (14 points) hit his third 3 with 4:24 remaining in the half to extend the Panther’s lead to 25-20.
    Davis called timeout, and Metter woke up.
    The Tigers finished out the half on a 13-2 run to take a 33-27 advantage into the locker room.
    The only lead change of the game came with 1:52 to play in the second quarter when MHS guard Ryan Sparks hit a 3 to put the Tigers ahead 29-27.
    Metter out scored the Panthers 22-9 in the third quarter.
    “They beat us on the boards,” said Portal coach Jeff Brannen, whose Panthers were out-rebounded 42-19 in the contest. “They got a lot of second-chance points out there in the second quarter, and they got the momentum at the end of the first half. They’re a pretty good team. They have a lot of seniors who have played a lot of basketball, and we’re still trying to find our groove, and what kind of team we want to be.”
    Stacy Morgan and Robert Lee each came off the bench for eight points for Portal.
    Byrd, Michael Edwards (16 points, nine rebounds) and James Gunn (10 points) all reached double digits for Metter.
    The Tigers return to action today when they host Emanuel County Institute. The girls face the Lady Bulldogs at 6 p.m. and the boy’s game tips off at 7:30 p.m.

Lady Panthers 46, Lady Tiger 26

    The Portal Lady Panthers got in the win column for the first time in the young season, knocking off visiting Metter 46-26 at home Friday.
    Portal’s Shaquisha Hagins led all scorers with 13 points.
    The Panthers locked down the court in the first quarter, allowing only four Lady Tiger points in the first eight minutes on the way to a 22-10 halftime advantage.
    Megan Anderson added 11 points for PHS, and Boshna Williams finished with eight.
    Shakendra Holloway led Metter with 10 points.
    The Lady Panthers return to action Tuesday at Johnson County at 6 p.m. The boy’s game will follow at 7:30 p.m.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.