GALLATIN - The Portland Panthers notched their third straight win Friday night at Gallatin, holding off a late rally from the Green Wave to come away with a 54-49 victory on the road.
Free throw shooting proved to be the difference in the game for the Panthers, as they made a total of 19 of their 24 attempts at the line.
After Gallatin cut the lead to one at 50-49 with just seconds remaining in the game, Dairius Bell hit two key foul shots, followed by two more from Dequan Bradley on the following possession that sealed the win for Portland.
“We never seemed to give up and continued to fight, even as they were making a run,” Portland head coach Darryl Travis said. “When you can play okay and make mistakes and still win a game at Gallatin, you’ve got to take it. We played hard, we competed, and we played together.”
The Panthers never trailed the entire game. After a tight first quarter, Portland broke an 11-11 tie with a 7-point run that gave them a sizeable cushion until late in the fourth quarter. A three-pointer from Mitchell Eagle early in the third gave the Panthers a 29-19 lead, their largest in the game.
Gallatin slowly chipped away at Portland’s lead the remainder of the second half. The Green Wave hit a significant number of free throws as well, with 11 of their 13 third quarter points coming from the foul line.
A three-pointer from Ethan Rodgers cut the lead to 40-36, that sparked the comeback, which eventually led to a one-point deficit after a layup and foul shot from Cade Martin. The Green Wave came up short on their final two possessions, failing to make a basket.
“We thought in the first half we didn’t play with a lot of energy,” Gallatin assistant coach Jojo Smith said. “The situation created a sense of urgency and that kind of got us going a little bit in the second half. We’ve just got to keep staying with what got us to wins earlier in the season and try to clean up on some mistakes.
Dairius Bell carried the Panthers with a team-high 18 points, including shooting 10-12 in free throws, six of which he made in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers will look to continue their momentum as they return home next Tuesday to take on Station Camp. Gallatin will look to rebound with a road contest Tuesday at Mt. Juliet.
Boys Box Score
Portland (54): Dairius Bell 18, Mitchell Eagle 12, Dequan Bradley 9, Duncan Smallwood 6, Caeson Utley 4, Hunter Hicks 3, Dawson Kennedy 2
Gallatin (49): Beljwok Adaing 18, Ethan Rodgers 9, Isaiah Ellis 8, Cade Martin 7, Noah Ring 3, Jack Richardson 2, A.J. Davis 2