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Portal splits with Savannah Country Day
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Portal's Darius Huff, left, slips behind Savannah Country Day's Jack Cook for a score during the third quarter Tuesday. The Portal girls squad dropped the first game of Tuesday's action before the boys team was often dominant in a 76-44 victory over the Hornets.

    The Panthers were all smiles after a 76-44 win over Savannah Country Day Tuesday night to move to 5-10 on the year with a 3-3 Region 3-A record.
    However, the biggest smile of the night probably belonged to Portal’s Artavious Thomas, who returned to basketball after sitting out most of the season
    In his first game back, Thomas scored 11 points en route to Portal’s big region victory.
    Darius Huff scored a game-high 26 points while Malik Williams scored 11. Connor Washington had a solid game offensively, scoring 10 points.
    “I just got back. I was gone and now I’m eligible to play. It feels good to get back with my teammates and get back on the court,” Thomas said.
    Despite the “good feeling” Thomas said he still needs to get back in shape. At one point during the game he asked for a substitute stating, “coach I’m tired.”
    “I was tired. I was tired out there,” said Thomas, laughing. “I need to get back in shape. It feels good though. My teammates did great and everyone was sharing the ball. We did good. Hopefully we can come out and do it next game.”
    Portal earned their biggest win of the season Tuesday night, the game against the Hornets. Portal held Savannah Country Day to just five third-quarter points.
    Portal head coach Jeff Brannen said his team played with more confidence against the Hornets and their shots were falling.
    “I think we were hitting shots. Our Achilles heel all season has been we’ve held teams to low points but we couldn’t score,” Brannen said. “I felt like we came out a little flat once again, but we picked it up and our guards picked up the intensity.”
    To start the game, the Hornets went on an 8-0 run. Portal tied the game at 8-8 with 3:41 left in the first quarter thanks to a Huff layup in the paint. Portal would tie the game once again in the first quarter 10-10 at the 3:41 mark. The Panthers would then go on an 11-3 run to end the quarter.
    In the third quarter, the Panthers pulled away, outscoring the Hornets 20-5.
    “I thought we controlled the paint and in the second half we played better defense. We work on defense every day and we’re trying to find our identity,” Brannen said. “I think we need to play up tempo and run the court. We have to be smart and get our points off of our defense.”
    Next up for Portal, the Panthers will face Savannah Christian on the road, Friday.
Lady Hornets 61, Lady Panthers 19
    It was a rough day at the office for Portal against region foe Savannah Country Day. The Hornets (12-4, 5-2 Region 3-A) opened their road game against the Lady Panthers hitting on all cylinders.
    Savannah Country Day started the game on a 10-0 run in the first four minutes and never looked back on their way to a 61-19 win.
    So far this season, the Lady Panthers have struggled against man-to-man defense and Tuesday’s contest was no different.
    Against the Hornets and their man-to-man defense, the Lady Panthers were held to their second lowest scoring mark of the season. Portal scored just 18 points against Jefferson County Dec. 28.
    Breyonna Raymond and Chandalier Morgan led the way scoring five points each. Dashonda Morgan scored four points.
    “We didn’t play very well. The man-to-man does give us problems and we just talked about that,” Portal head coach Cliff Hubbard said after Tuesday’s loss. “I have some plans in place so we can get better at it.”
    After Tuesday’s loss, the Lady Panthers (4-12, 2-4 Region) are towards the bottom of the region standings. After a clutch win over Jenkins County, Portal lost a nail-bitter against Claxton Jan. 8.
    “We just have to win some games really,” Hubbard said. “We have to be in a position to play well come tournament time. Someone can get hot and a lower seed can beat a higher seed.”
    The Hornets were paced by Landry Rushing and Ana Muller.  Rushing scored 23 points on the night and Muller scored 20.
    Towards the end of the game, Hubbard said he worked on a few plays to run to give his post players a little more confidence. Hubbard said he was happy with the effort.
    “When they’re up by that much, you might as well work on some things and I wanted to work on getting our post players involved,” Hubbard said. “Tiffany Coleman went to the line four times. little things like that can help.”