The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets managed to sweep the Portal Panthers Saturday night in Brooklet with the girls winning by a final score of 37-17 and the boys completing the sweep with a 62-59 victory .
Trailing by as many as 23 points in the second half the Portal Panthers went on a late run as Jay Odom cut the Southeast Bulloch lead to one at 60-59 with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game, but AJ Williams sank a pair of free throws and Portal was unable to get up a last second shot as the Yellow Jackets hung on for a 62-59 victory.
"We knew they were going to go on a run, that's what they do," said SEB coach Matt Kuykendall. "We had great ball movement and defense for most of the game. I was proud of our guys for hanging in there and making the plays when we needed to tonight.''
Portal coach Jeff Brannen was proud of the team's effort but blamed the rough start for ultimately costing them the game.
"We just got going a little too late," said Portal coach Jeff Brannen. "We came out flat and didn't follow the game plan of getting the ball inside for the first half. We got it going and did what we asked in the second half. I was glad we didn't quit and hopefully we can learn from this loss."
The Yellow Jackets came out hot scoring from the outside as well as creating great ball movement which resulted in open layups. Meanwhile the Panthers settled for jump shots and were not too successful.
“The game plan from the start was to try and work the ball inside to Amir Jackson as we felt we had an advantage down low,” said Brannen. “We finally started doing that in the third and early fourth quarter and that is what helped us get back in the game.”
The Yellow Jackets took a 40-24 halftime lead and went on to extend their lead to 23 points in the third quarter. The Jackets had plenty of players contribute during their run but none more than Ryan Reed who scored 13 points in the second and nine in the third and finished the game with 32 points.
“Ryon is an incredible kid on and off the court,” said Kuykendall. “He is in youth leadership Bulloch and the Beta club and just a great kid. He came through every time we needed him to tonight and played hard on both ends of the court.”
For the Panthers chemistry has been an issue over the past four games. The Panthers went four games without a full roster having players out with suspensions which occurred after the Treutlen County incident. Brannen feels they still haven’t come together yet.
“It was god for some players to get a chance to play and add seom depth,” said Brannen. “It really did hot our core guys though as they were split up and we are still recovering from that. Basketball is a long season and we are going in the right direction, we just have to put four quarters together.”
Reed had 32 to lead the Jackets while A.J. Williams added 12 points. Portal was led by Jackson with 23 and Elijah Coleman added 17 points. Southeast Bulloch improves to 8-6 while Portal falls to 8-4.
In the girls' game the Lady Yellow Jackets pulled away in the second half thanks to a game high 23 points from Madison Taylor as the Lady Jackets improved to 4-9 overall and 2-2 in region play.
“Madison did a great job of drawing the defense and finding open players tonight,” said coach Meredith Belcher. “She drove to the basket and scored when it was available but she is such an unselfish player and really looked to get the others involved.”
After a sluggish first quarter with the Jackets leading 6-2 Southeast Bulloch picked up the intensity in the second quarter and carried it over to the second half where they outscored Portal 21-6.
“We had told the team they needed to put more pressure on the ball coming into the game,” said Belcher. “They didn’t do that in the first half and I pointed out we only had two fouls which shows we aren’t applying pressure. When they finally did it in the second half, I thought we really started rolling.”
Next up Southeast Bulloch is at Johnson Tuesday at 6:00. Portal falls to 2-9 and will be at Metter Tuesday for a 6:00 start.
Elsewhere The Statesboro Blue Devils avenged their lone loss of the season as they knocked off Benedictine 62-50 Saturday in Savannah. Leslie Black led the Blue Devils with 20 points and 11 rebounds while Albert Mikell added 15 points and JeCorey Hill had 11 points. Statesboro improves to 15-1 overall and 6-0 in region play. The Blue Devils host Effingham County Tuesday with the girls starting at 6 p.m.
The Bulloch Academy Gators split a pair of games Saturday at Savannah Christian as the girls won 68-39 while the boys fell 78-35. Sarah Ellis led the Gators with 23 points while Kacie Ricketts had 16 points and Armani Cooke had 12 points. Up next Bulloch Academy hosts Pinewood Tuesday at 6 pm..