Portal continues to get the most it can out of 2011 as it took a second win in as many nights at its holiday tournament Thursday night.
It was a blowout from the opening tip as Portal stormed to a 28-5 lead after just one quarter of play, then continued to roll as the Panthers (8-1, 1-1 Region 3-A) chalked up an easy 85-59 win over Bryan County.
After a hard-fought 67-61 win over Worth County in Wednesday’s tournament opener, Portal made things look easy against the Redskins (1-8, 0-0).
“During the holidays, a lot of teams get more practice time,” Brannen said. “For us, we’d rather get out on the court and play. Having that game atmosphere gives our guys a better idea of how to execute like we want and what they need to improve on.”
Portal was led by Robert Lee’s 21 points. Shaun Hagins (14 points) and Corey Reese (13) joined Lee with double-digit efforts, and 10 total Panthers scored on the night.
Jaylen Rawls led Bryan County with 15 points.
Portal had its foot on the gas from the get-go as it scored the first six points of the game. Reese scored six of his team's first 10 points and Hagins notched 11 in the opening quarter to stake the Panthers to a sizable lead.
As hot as the Portal offense was, its defense was equally effective. The Panthers kept the Redskins out of their rhythm with a nearly constant full-court press early on and kept up the pressure every time Bryan County tried to force the ball inside.
Portal forced turnovers on six of the Redskins’ first 12 possessions and allowed just one shot on three of those trips down the court.
“It’s always good to get off to a quick start,” Brannen said. “Our defense was really key for us early on. We had good pressure and forced some turnovers. That led to a lot of easy layups and high percentage shots over on the offensive end of things.”
Bryan County tried to respond — scoring the first four points of the second quarter — but Lee quickly took control for Portal.
The sophomore guard responded for the Panthers by scoring eight straight points for Portal and registering 10 of his 21 total points in the second quarter.
The Redskins slowly got their offense going, but simply couldn’t keep pace with Portal. The Panthers continued to outwork Bryan County on both ends of the court, and a pair of Brandyn DeLoach buckets at the end of the second quarter stretched the Portal lead to 51-21 at halftime.
“We had a lot of guys contribute,” Brannen said. “That’s the way that we like to execute. We want to have two or three guys in double-digits each game. One guy might not have the best game, but we’ve got others waiting to step up.”
As the second half began, Portal’s bench got a workout. Underclassmen such as Akeem Oglesby (9 points) got some quality time on the court while Brannen was able to see his entire team in action.
“(Our bench players) practice just as hard as the starters do and it’s always good to get them in there,” Brannen said. “I think that they did a good job with the time they had out there. We expect the same of them as everyone else. They gave a good effort and got some experience that they can use to get better.”
Portal’s constant pressure continued to wear on the Redskins, forcing turnover after turnover and seldom allowing a second-chance opportunity when Bryan County had the ball. The Panthers stretched their lead as far as 71-38 after the third quarter and easily ran out the final period with the mercy clock in motion.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.