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Tigers get through PHS
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Claxton's Justin Hagan, bottom, gets Portal defender Deontre Williams in the air while driving the baseline during the second quarter Saturday at Claxton. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    CLAXTON — A year after winning its first region title in a decade, Claxton is intent to prove that last season was no fluke.
    The Tigers (13-4, 6-1 Region 3E-A) kept their spot at the top of the region standings by utilizing some big runs in taking down Portal 67-42 Saturday night.
    With the win, Claxton inched closer to clinching a first round bye in the region tournament which would mean one less postseason win is necessary for a repeat title.
    The Tigers wasted no time getting on top as they ripped off a streak of five consecutive possessions with a field goal as Portal found good looks and worked its way to the free throw line twice, but couldn’t get anything to fall.
The Panthers went over five minutes without a point before Jamie Hagins (13 points) hit a jumper with under a minute left. But by then, Claxton had assembled a 17-2 run and had assumed a 19-6 lead after the first quarter.
    “I wanted us to get out to a fast start,” said Bluestein. “Portal is a big and physical team. A lot more physical than us. By getting a good lead early, it kept them from grinding away and trying to wear us down.”
    Portal started to click early in the second quarter, but couldn’t cut into the Tiger lead as LaBron Glover dropped nine of his 17 points.
    Along with his five steals on the night, Glover also found Rashod Lovett under the basket just before the buzzer to give Claxton a 36-20 lead at halftime.
    Portal freshman Stacey Morgan connected twice on 3-pointers early in the third quarter to give the Panthers a spark, but the Tigers quickly answered and Kelsey Wilkerson’s 3 with 3:18 to go in the quarter capped an 8-0 run that gave Claxton a dominating 45-22 edge.
    Wilkerson tied Glover’s 17-point effort to lead all other scorers and Zenas Moore’s 12 made it three Tigers in double-digits.
    For Claxton, there were plenty of reasons to celebrate the win. It added another vital region victory that will help the Tigers’ seeding in next month’s Region 3-A tournament, but also served as revenge for Claxton’s loss at the hands of the Panthers three weeks ago in Portal.
    “It was definitely good to pay them back, but every win is big right now,” said Bluestein. “We need to keep taking these one game at a time. We would love to do well in the region tournament again, but we aren’t good enough to look ahead to that when we still have games to play in the regular season.”
    Both teams return to action Tuesday with critical home sub-region matchups. Portal takes on Treutlen while Claxton squares off against Savannah Christian.

Lady Tigers 64, Lady Panthers 23
    The Claxton girls notched a season sweep over Portal as they rolled to an easy 64-23 victory Saturday night.
    Polly Murray had one of her best offensive outputs of the season for the Lady Tigers as she led all scorers with 21 points. Murray threw in 10 rebounds and fell just short of recording a triple-double with seven assists.
    Shian Hagins topped all Lady Panther efforts with 12.
    The Lady Panthers struggled offensively throughout the game and dug themselves an early hole, managing just one point in the first eight minutes as Claxton built a 13-1 advantage. The Tigers continued to add to their lead in the second quarter and took a 26-10 lead into the break.
    Portal came out of halftime shooting the ball better, but couldn’t manage to cut into its deficit as Claxton kept rolling.
    Claxton ended the third quarter on a 9-2 run to make it 43-19 and scored the first 14 points of the final quarter to turn the game into a rout.

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.