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Devils go lights out

62 percent shooting lifts SHS to victory

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The Statesboro Blue Devils had all the answers Saturday night in their 61-53 win over Jenkins of Savannah. Every time the visiting Warriors turned up the pressure on defense, SHS sped past their defenders for easy layups. Every time JHS went to a man defense, SHS fed the ball down low for an easy two. Every time Jenkins switched to a 2-3 zone, the Devils used crisp ball movement to drain the three. Statesboro shot 62 percent from the field and 9-for-12 from beyond the arc. “Those guys have been having shots all year and I’ve been telling them to shoot,” said Statesboro senior forward Justin Houston of his teammates. “They’ve been scared to shoot and they finally let loose tonight.” Houston scored 10 of his team’s first 15 points in the first quarter before letting someone else in on the fun. The Devils jumped out to a 21-12 lead after one behind 9 of 15 shooting. Five points from Nakeavis Hunter and six from Jared Houston propelled Statesboro (11-9) to a 35-23 lead. The two combined for three 3-pointers and helped the SHS guards slow down a quick and speedy Jenkins squad. Statesboro ended the half on an 8-1 run after JHS (7-11) pulled to within five at 27-22. “We played our tempo,” said SHS coach Lee Hill. “We changed defenses on them, we played a half-court trap to slow them down... because I didn’t want to get in a running game with them. When they’re in their running game they’re a good team.” The Blue Devils won their first meeting with the Warriors on Dec. 9. Since then JHS has pulled off victories against rivals Savannah High and Beach. Jenkins came out of the locker room and quickly cut the lead to 37-28. But SHS reeled off seven straight to make the advantage 44-28. From there the lead would grow to 48-30 thanks in part to the play of forward Patrick Parker. Parker scored six in the period, finished with 10 points on the night and grabbed four rebounds. From there all the Devils had to do was hold on to their lead. The Warriors would make the gap as close as six with seven seconds left, as Statesboro scored just two points over the final 3:34. “I thought (Jenkins) would come out and play hard because they wanted some revenge,” said Hunter, who finished with 13 points. “But coach told us about the tempo, so we wanted to slow the game down and play our tempo.” Eric Ferguson added 10 points for SHS while point guard John Osborne led the Warriors with 14. Rashard Mitchell and Kenneth Bouche finished with 13 each for JHS and Bouche pulled down nine boards. Justin Houston finished with 15 to lead all scorers. The only negative stat on the night for Statesboro was from the free-throw line where the Devils shot 4-for-16. Lady Blue Devils 44, Lady Warriors 25 It took a while for the Lady Blue Devils of Statesboro to get going, but once they did, the outcome was never in doubt. Monnette Bennett and Cassandra McBride scored nine points each to give Statesboro a 44-25 win over Jenkins Saturday night. Bennett’s six first-quarter points helped SHS (11-8) build an 11-4 lead after one quarter. The teams were tied at four before the Lady Devils ended the quarter on a 7-0 run. The win completed the season sweep for Statesboro. “I expected (Jenkins) to be a lot better,” said junior guard Victoria Mikell who scored seven points. “When we first played them it was their first game, so I expected them to play a lot harder than they did back then.” The Devils picked up the defensive pressure in the second quarter and outscored the Warriors 14-2 in the period. McBride scored five points during the stretch and Mikell hit a 3 from just in front of the halfcourt circle as the horn sounded. Jenkins made a mini 6-2 run to start the second half, but couldn’t capitalize on the momentum. The Lady Warriors turned the ball over 26 times. Statesboro was held scoreless over a stretch of 5:14 at one point, but still managed to end the third quarter on a 5-0 spurt. Even Bennett was held without points in the second half and the star junior shot 4-for-20 from the field. “I don’t know what happened to me in the second half,” said Bennett, who averages 18.2 a game. “My teammates all stepped-up and hit their shots. We did good enough to pull out the win.” Statesboro will hit the road for a crucial region showdown against Greenbrier on Tuesday. The Lady Devils tip at 6 p.m. with the boys immediately to follow.
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