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Lady Panthers stay alive with win in region tournament

    MILLEN — With opposing teams keying in on Portal’s leading scorers, Breyonna Raymond and Chandalier Morgan all season, the Lady Panthers needed a third threat in order to advance in the GHSA Class-A, region 3-A playoffs, Monday.
    Against Savannah Christian, the Lady Panthers may have found their answer in forward Aleaha Wiggins. Wiggins scored seven points giving Portal a much-needed boost in a thrilling 38-35  win over the Lady Raiders.
    “It was big. Without those baskets from her it’s a different ball game. We would probably be going home tonight,” said Portal girls basketball head coach Tendai Haggins after Monday’s victory. “She probably had at least 10 (rebounds) tonight and to get six or seven points from her was big. She stepped up on the offensive end and hopefully her confidence is up and our players catch fire tomorrow.”
    After the game, Wiggins said her offensive production against the Lady Raiders was a little surprising. Nonetheless Wiggins, generally known on the court for her defensive prowess, said she worked very hard throughout the season on hitting her layups.
    “It was surprising at first because that’s usually not what I do. My coaches were happy and my teammates were happy, therefore I’m happy,” Wiggins said. “I work every single day in practice on layups. After practice we even break it down, ‘4..5..6 layups’ just for me.”
    Against Savannah Christian Raymond scored a team-high 18 points with Morgan adding 10 points.
    Portal led by as many as eight points in the third quarter, but had to fend off a surging Lady Raiders team late in the game.
    Down 31-24 in the fourth quarter, Savannah Christian started a 9-1 run with less than five minutes to play.
    At the 2:57 mark in the fourth quarter, the Lady Raiders regained the lead 33-32 with 2:57 left in the game—prompting a timeout from the Portal bench.
    “It’s tough. We were up by eight or nine and we still don’t have that intensity I keep talking about,” said Haggins. “We need to put teams away when you get them down. We can’t let teams back in it. We have to do the small things. Hopefully we can get in school (Tuesday) and find some time to come together and go over everything.”
    Portal regained their composure after the timeout. Morgan scored a crucial bucket in the low post to give the Lady Panthers a 34-33 lead with 49 seconds left to play.
    Raymond would score the next four points from the free-throw line.
    “We hung on and we get a chance to fight tomorrow. Hopefully we can clean it up,” Haggins said.
    Portal will play Emanuel County Institute at Treutlen at 4 p.m. today.
    With the Lady Panthers’ season hanging in the balance, Wiggins wants to come out ready to play against ECI.
    “My mindset going into the next game is eat, eat, eat and play as one. That’s my mindset,” Wiggins said.