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Lemon sours Portal Holiday Classic finale

    PORTAL — The Portal Panthers didn’t have much trouble in their first two games at the Portal Holiday Classic, but a rough shooting night prevented them from making it a clean sweep as South Effingham claimed a 59-53 victory Monday night in the final game of the tournament.
    South Effingham’s Sean Lemon hit a pair of 3s as the Mustangs pulled ahead in the second quarter. Lemon’s 15 points led all South Effingham scorers and his two free throws in the fourth quarter helped to put the game away.
    Portal’s normally consistent offense was its downfall. The Panthers shot less than 30 percent on the night and connected on just 3-of-16 from behind the arc.
    “We had a lot of opportunities,” Portal coach Jeff Brannen said. “When you miss on layups and open shots and layups, it’s tough to win. We had our moments, but we didn’t hit our shots when we needed to.”
    Portal trailed 54-45 with 3:13 to play, but forced the Mustangs to turn the ball over on five consecutive possessions. Stacey Morgan (18 points) hit a pair of jumpers to spur on the rally and Harrison Sherrod’s pair of free throws made it 56-53 with 45.5 seconds to play.
    Tyler Hagan (11 points) made it a two-possession game with a free throw at the 32.2 second mark. Morgan had a shot blocked on Portal’s next possession and Hagan sank two more from the charity stripe to cap the scoring.

SEB 74, GMC 69
    Southeast Bulloch and Georgia Military were locked in a tight matchup before Sheldon Hendrix took over.
    The SEB guard exploded for eight 3-pointers —including one from over 30 feet away — to key a 74-69 victory for the Yellow Jackets Friday night.
    Hendrix finished with a game-high 30 points.
    Hendrix connected from behind the arc on the first two possessions of the second half while SEB played tough defense on the other end of the floor. Matthew McBride hit from long range for the Jackets before two more bombs by Hendrix caught nothing but net to cap a 16-4 run.
    “Sheldon got on a tear for us,” SEB coach John Page said. “It seemed like everything he threw up was going in. We’ve got some guys who can fill it up this year. Tonight was one of those nights where it really clicked for us.”
    The big third quarter gave SEB a 57-44 advantage, but the Bulldogs tried to rally.
    Dalton Threate countered Hendrix’s shooting with two 3s of his own and Troy Campfield connected down low to get GMC within 61-52 at the 5:44 mark.

Portal 53, Long Co. 33 (girls)
    Breyonna Raymond scored a game-high 23 points and Shiann Hagins added 12 as the Portal girls had no trouble with Long County Monday night. With the win, the Lady Panthers (5-4) took two of three games in their own tournament and moved over the .500 mark on the season.
    Just three different Panthers scored in Saturday’s win over Southeast Bulloch. Portal spread the ball around a bit more against Long County as seven players recorded points.
    Solid defense to close out both halves was the key to Portal’s win. The Panthers didn’t surrender a point in the second quarter and — holding a 41-30 lead entering the fourth quarter — allowed just three Long County points over the final eight minutes.
    The Portal boys and girls host Savannah Country Day on Friday.

SEB 60, GMC 43 (girls)
    Two nights after falling to cross-county rival Portal, the Southeast Bulloch girls bounced back in style, cruising to a 60-43 win over Georgia Military to complete their run at the Portal Holiday Classic.
    The Lady Yellow Jackets were still without top scorer Jasmine Roberts, but Philicia Batton picked up the slack with 21 points and Destiny Burke added 17 more.
    SEB controlled the contest from the start, limiting the Lady Bulldogs to just three points in the first quarter and building a 29-17 lead by halftime. Burke’s eight points in the third quarter made it a comfortable lead for the Jackets and they coasted to the final buzzer with little trouble.
    Kaylie and Karlie Harding were the only GMC players to reach double-digit scoring, netting 14 and 12 points, respectively.
    The SEB boys and girls resume Region 1-AAA play Friday as they host New Hampstead.

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