The Portal Panthers (15-10, 9-4) let the Johnson County Trojans (3-17, 3-9) hang around for one quarter of play, but put things into overdrive in the second, scoring 20 points in just over three minutes of play en route to a 65-42 victory.
“We fed off our defense tonight,” said Portal coach Jeff Brannen. “We are so inconsistent on offense. One night we score in the paint, tonight it was from outside, but we got it done and picked up the win.”
The Panthers were out of sync for most of the first quarter and held a slim 11-8 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.
In the second quarter the Panthers turned up the heat defensively, creating turnovers that led to easy layups and wide open 3-pointers.
Conner Washington started things out with a 3 from the corner and was followed by a pair from behind the arc by Dax Reddick as Portal extended its lead to 28-8.
Craig Ware’s steal and layup capped a 19-0 run to start the second quarter. Portal outscored Johnson County 30-10 in the third, and took a 41-18 halftime lead.
The Panthers continued to pour it on in the third quarter. A layup by Ware capped off a 10-0 run to open the third and Portal’s lead ballooned to 51-18, taking away any hope of a Johnson County comeback.
A Brian Ware 3-pointer ended the third with Portal leading 58-25. Brannen emptied his bench for most of the fourth quarter and Portal cruised for the 23-point victory.
“It was senior night, and it could be the last time some of those guys play on this court,” Brannen said. “I’m glad they all played well, and then we were able to get some younger players some playing time.”
Portal was led in scoring by Washington with 17 points. Devonta Brown added 13 and Ronald Williams had 10. Johnson County was led by Janiyas Rodd with 13 points.
Portal is currently 19th in the Class-A power poll and will open its region tournament Thursday at Jenkins County as the No. 3 seed taking on second-seeded Treutlen County.
The top 24 teams in the power poll advance to the state tournament and, win or lose, Portal will not drop in the polls and should advance to the state playoffs.
Lady Panthers 40, Lady Trojans 63
The Portal Panthers (1-24, 0-19) girls basketball team scored the most points they had put up all season, but it still wasn’t enough as they fell to Johnson County (9-12, 9-9) by a score of 63-40 in Friday’s first game.
The Panthers made a nice run in the third quarter, cutting a 13 point deficit down to four as back-to-back baskets by Kolbie Motes and Keely Thomas made it 36-32 with 1:05 left in the third.
But Johnson County outscored Portal 24-8 in the fourth quarter as they pulled away for the win.
“I thought we played better tonight then we did all year,” said Portal coach David Hodges. “The girls played hard and they didn’t quit. We hit a tough stretch there at the end but we have things to build on.”
The game was halted for about 10 minutes after a fight broke out with Johnson County leading 54-36 in the fourth quarter.
Words were exchanged between the Panthers’ Yani Brown and the Trojans’ Shonnetria Ervin. Brown was pulled from the court by teammate Destiny Brown. As the Portal coaches attempted to step in, Ervin threw a punch, connecting with Brown’s face.
As coaches Cliff Hubbard and Hodges were separating the players, Shonnetria’s sister, Shamya, jumped through the scrum and hit Brown in the head.
Referees ejected Yani Brown and both the Ervin sisters and the game resumed without further incident as Johnson County ran out the clock for the victory.
“In sports, things get heated at times and things like this happen.” Hodges said. “I talked to the team after the game about needing to keep our composure, and do things that will help our team out.”
Destiny Brown led the way for Portal with 15 points while Keely Thomas added 11. Shonnetria Ervin was Johnson County’s leading scorer with 15 points.
Portal jumps right back into action tonight, making the short trip to Twin City for a regular season-ending rivalry matchup with Emanuel County Institute.