Portal-Portal and Jenkins County fans packed the arena to see their teams go at it on Friday night. Both of the Panthers' basketball teams took home victories against their rivals.
Lady Panther's Pull Off the Upset
Coming into Friday night's matchup, the Jenkins County War Eagles' women's basketball team sat on top of the region with a 6-1 record. The Lady Panthers had payback on their mind after taking a tough loss to the War Eagles in their previous game. Portal finished out the regular season with a big 49-44 win against Jenkins County on Friday.
Two free throws by Portal senior Tiara Kingsberry put the Lady Panthers up 4 in the final minute and salted away the victory. After going into the half knotted up at 27, Portal jumped out to a 8-point lead in the third quarter and was able to hold off the War Eagles through the rest of the game. Bigtime shooting from Portal got their fans out of their seats and the gym rocking.
3-point shooting and defense were the catalysts for the Lady Panthers' win on Friday night. They also went on runs in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th quarters to swing momentum in their favor. Portal Head Coach, Nicole Newton, was proud of how her team came out. "They were really locked in today", Newton said. Newton also spoke on how Kobe Bryant was helped inspired the team. "We had a pregame speech about Mamba Mentality with yesterday being 2-8-24", Newton said. "We just wanted to instill that mentality into them and they did that. We faced some adversity, but we bounced back and got the win."
A sold out arena and raucous crowd brought a playoff intensity to the game and the Lady Panthers were able to use that on the court. "We haven't been in this position for a long time at Portal", Newton said. "Every game from here on out is going to get bigger and bigger. It's ok to be nervous, but don't let it consume you. They got the jitters out the way and then we played ball."
Portal senior Glen Lowe led the Lady Panthers with 16 points. Tiara Kingsberry pitched in with 13 points of her own. Both players hit big 3s throughout the game to keep their team in it.
Konstance Langston led the War Eagles in scoring with 16 points. Naveah Campbell also poured in 14 for Jenkins County.
The Lady Panthers improve to 10-14 on the season and finish 3rd in the region with a 5-3 record. The War Eagles fall to 13-11 and lose their grip on 1st in the region.
Panthers' Men Close Out Season with Statement
The Portal men's basketball team took care of business against Jenkins County with a 70-42 blowout win.
The Panthers walked into Friday night on a 12-game winning streak and with sole possession of first in the region with a 9-0 record. On their heels were the Jenkins County War Eagles who only had 1 region loss on the season.
The Panthers jumped out to a large lead early in the second quarter and rode it to the win. The Panthers were able to coast after a big second quarter run blew the game open. Portal outscored Jenkins County 25-6 in the second period to go into the half with a 23-point lead.
The Panthers played very well defensively and that allows for easy baskets on the other end. The crowd also erupted from a few jams from seniors Amir Jackson and Marion Tremble.
Portal Head Coach, Jeff Brannen, spoke on the mission that the Panthers were on coming into the game. "We wanted to end the regular season, Jenkins County came in here with one loss in the region", Brannen said. "We wanted to make a statement and I think we did."
Portal Sophomore Brian McQueen led the Panthers in scoring with 14 points. Senior Elijah Coleman followed up with 13 points and almost took the roof off the gym with an alley-oop dunk that rimmed out.
Portal finishes off the regular season with a 24-1 record and 10-0 in region play. Jenkins County falls to 18-6 on the season and a 8-2 record in region play.
The Region Playoffs tip off next week. The schedule and bracket are yet to be released.