METTER — The Portal Panthers made a last-ditch effort to spoil Metter’s senior night, but Devin Byrd closed out his career in the home gym with 21 points and the Tigers held on for a 61-56 win Friday night.
It was the last regular-season game for the Panthers (16-8, 9-3 Region 3B-A) who already clinched the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in next week’s Region 3-A tournament.
Portal trailed 48-30 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, but closed the gap to 55-50 with 2:58 to go in the game when Jamie Hagins (17 points) got his own offensive rebound and put it back.
Unfortunately, the Panthers only committed four fouls in the first 14 minutes of the second half, so when they started fouling the stalling Tigers (13-9, 5-4 Region 3B-A), it took three before Metter went to the line, took too much time off the clock and they ran out of time.
“You always want to win your last game, but the effort was there,” said PHS coach Jeff Brannen. “Now you’ve got to regroup and play a one-game season in the tournament. Anybody can win it now. Throw out the regular season and just come out ready to play.”
Portal, which was led in scoring by freshman Stacey Morgan (18 points) will have a bye on Monday and play its first tournament game Tuesday at Jenkins County’s gym in Millen.
Metter, which controlled the game until the final 10 minutes, would like to play today’s final regular-season game — a 7:30 p.m. makeup at home against Savannah Country Day — like it played in the first half against Portal.
“I think we started to become a one-dimensional team,” said Metter coach Dwayne Davis. “Whoever had the basketball was trying to do a little bit too much. We pretty much ran one offense, and with that offense we had a lot of one on ones and not as much continuity as we did in the first half. My assistant coach said he hated to see that first half end.”
The Tigers, who celebrated seniors Byrd, Devin Dekle, Ryan Sparks, Jamaree Mason, Mike Edwards (10 points) and Preton Perry (14 points) before the game, will play an opponent yet to be determined in the first round of the region tournament Monday as the No. 3 seed.
Lady Panthers 55, Lady Tigers 20
The Portal Lady Panthers ended the regular season with a bang in the form of a 55-20 win over the hosting Metter Lady Tigers, but won’t have time to rest as, for them, the Region 3-A tournament begins today.
The Panthers will face a play-in game today at Wheeler County in order to play in their home gym, where the next two rounds will take place next week.
“Right now we need to go down to Wheeler,” said PHS coach Gwen Ford. “We beat them twice before, the third time is hopefully a charm.”
Portal locked down defensively at Metter, holding the Tigers to six or less points in each of the four quarters. Deanna Dorsey led MHS with 14 points.
Three Panthers – Boshna Williams (10 points), Nikki Sims and Janie Williams — each hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Megan Anderson added eight points for Portal.
“It’s good to end our regular season on a high note with a win,” said Ford. “We were expecting to win and the girls showed up. The starters got a little bit of a break, they’re rested and everyone got a lot of playing time.”
Metter celebrated the final home game for seniors Beka Lee, Kayla Lanier and Brittany Deloach before the game.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.