The Portal Panthers (11-9, 7-3) rebounded nicely from a couple of losses over the weekend as they jumped out to an early lead, and never looked back, knocking off Savannah Country Day (5-14, 1-10) by a score of 56-32 Tuesday in Portal.
The Panther defense helped set the tone early on. A Ronald Williams layup after a Panther steal gave Portal a 10-4 lead with 2:50 left in the first quarter.
“I thought defense was a key for our win tonight,” said Portal coach Jeff Brannen. “I think the defensive pressure we applied in the first half set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Portal led 15-10 after one quarter of play, and extended that in the second. A three point play by Craig Ware stretched the Panther lead to 21-12 with 3:45 left in the quarter.
Portal closed the half with a Dax Reddick three pointer and a Malik Delpesh layup as the Panthers grabbed a 26-14 halftime lead.
The Panther defensive pressure continued as Portal held Savannah Country Day to four points in the second quarter, and only four points in the third as well.
A Ronald Williams dunk, followed by a Reddick three at the buzzer increased the Portal lead to 40-18 at the end of the third.
In the fourth with Portal comfortably ahead, both teams emptied their benched early, and the Panthers would go on to win by 24 points.
“In high school basketball you have to control the paint, and I think we did that tonight,” Brannen said. “Craig Ware plays hard, and is relentless under the boards. Ronald Williams has good length and hits the board hard as well.”
Portal was led by Williams with 18 points, Ware added 14 while Connor Washington had nine points. Savannah Country Day was led by Jarrett Karnibad and Rhodes Pendarius who each had nine points.
Lady Hornets 44, Lady Panthers 23
The Savannah Country Day girls only dressed out eight players, but it was more than enough Tuesday, as they cruised past the Portal Panthers 44-23.
Portal (1-19, 0-12) was able to keep things relatively close for a while as they trailed 11-4 after the first quarter and then 27-13 at halftime.
The Hornet's 6-1 center Madeline Wynn single handedly outscored the Panthers nine to four in the first quarter. Portal fought back behind six points from Keely Thomas in the second.
“I felt like there have been times our team has not really wanted to play basketball,” said coach Steve Smith, “This was not one of those times. I really liked our effort out there tonight.”
Wynn once again outscored the Panthers in the third as Portal managed just one Thomas free throw, while Wynn had six points in the third, as Savannah Country Day extended their lead to 35-14.
In the fourth Portal actually tied the Hornets 9-9 but it wouldn’t be nearly enough, as they ended up falling by 21 points.
“Our first time against Savannah Country Day we scored a few more points, but the effort was there,” Smith said. “I think we really cut back on our turnover tonight as well, so there were a few positives.”
Portal was led by Thomas with nine points, Madison Cook added six. Savannah Country Day (11-10, 7-4) was paced by Wynn with 22 points, Caroline Gilpun added 14 points.
Up next Portal hosts Jenkins County Saturday with the girls starting things off at 6 p.m.