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PHS slams ECI
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Portal's Trent Thomas, top, gets behind Emanuel County Institute's Rashon Marsh for an easy score during the third quarter on Friday in Portal. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    PORTAL — The Portal Panthers have found themselves in some close games over the last couple of weeks, but they weren’t playing around against Emanuel County Institute Friday night.
    The Panthers (16-5, 8-1 Region 3-A) scored the first 17 points of the night and hardly let up from there, coasting to a 63-40 victory.
    “This was a great game for us,” Portal coach Jeff Brannen said. “All of our guys played well. It was also nice to get a lot of players into the game. They practice hard every day, so it’s great anytime you can get everyone a lot of minutes.”
    Effective long-range shooting has been the Panthers’ calling card so far this season and Friday was no exception.
    Tyler Budgett (9 points)started the game with a 3-ball in the opening minute and was immediately backed up by two D’Vonte Moore (8 points) connections from behind the arc.
    Trent Thomas led all scorers with 23 points and finished off the Panthers’ dominating opening run with a thundering two-handed finish on an alley oop.
    “It’s always good any time you can get out to a good start,” Brannen said. “We set the tone for the whole game and I like the fact that we continued to play at a high level as the game went on.”
    Hot shooting on the Panthers’ end lit up the scoreboard, but the rout had just as much to do with the Panthers’ defense. Portal forced five turnovers in the first quarter and nearly every shot the Bulldogs (4-12, 1-6) were able to find was heavily contested.
    A few of Portal’s shots began to rim out in the second quarter, but a halftime margin of 36-13 still found the Panthers with things well in hand.
    A bit of on-court chemistry slipped as Portal emptied its bench early in the third quarter. A handful of turnovers allowed ECI to make the score a bit more respectable, but the Panther reserves eventually found their footing and continued to get the best of the action.
    “We’ve had some tight ones lately,” Brannen said. “It’s good to have to grind every once in a while, but it’s nice to see everything come together and get a good win.”

Lady Bulldogs 59, Lady Panthers 26
    The Portal girls finally broke through for their first win of the season last week, but a matchup against the talented Lady Bulldogs of Emanuel County Institute put a halt to any momentum as ECI cruised to a 59-26 win.
    Friday’s game got off to an inauspicious start as The Lady Bulldogs (9-5, 4-2) finished the first quarter with a 19-0 lead over Portal (1-19, 1-8). Those rough eight minutes of play extended the Lady Panthers’ struggles as they were held scoreless throughout the entire second half of Tuesday’s game at Calvary Day.
    The Panthers eventually found their offense and Uniqua Mosley had one of her best games of the season, leading Portal with 11 points. But the damage had already been done. Portal closed within 28-13 by halftime and even outscored the Bulldogs in the third quarter, but the Panthers couldn’t get within striking distance and managed just four points in the fourth quarter as ECI pulled away for the win.
    Taeha Williams’ 21 points led the way for the Bulldogs, including a clutch pair of 3-pointers that kept Portal from inching closer early in the second half.
    No other Lady Bulldog broke the 10-point barrier, but a total of seven players scored and kept the Portal defense guessing for four quarters.
    It will be a quick turnaround for Portal as both squads host Savannah Country Day today. The girls tip off at 5 p.m. with the boys game scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.