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SHS rolls over Liberty

SHS rolls over Liberty

SHS rolls over Liberty

Statesboro High's Zaquavian Smith get...

    Looking to remain undefeated in sub-region play, Statesboro High put on an impressive show in defeating Liberty County by a count of 81-42 Friday night at the Devil’s Den.
    The Blue Devils (19-3, 4-0 Region 3-AAAA, No. 6 in Class AAAA) rode a suffocating defense to the win as Statesboro held the Panthers (7-12, 1-3) without a field goal for 6:04 in the first and second quarters while it built a sizable lead.
    “Our defense was really the key tonight,” said SHS coach Lee Hill. “We had a few big stretches where we played really well. We were able to get in a rhythm on both sides of the ball and play our game.”
    Yakeem Coleman led all scorers with 18 points – 12 of them coming via 3-pointers. Zaquavian Smith notched 15 more for the Devils while Jonathan Taylor added 10 more.
    Statesboro took a 15-10 lead after a competitive first quarter, then took firm control in the second period.
    Coleman began to extend the lead with a tough inside jumper, followed by a deep 3. O’Aaron Ware then picked off a pass and went in for an easy layup before knocking down a short jumper on the Devils’ next possession.
    While Statesboro was racking up the points, the Panthers were struggling to even run their offense.
    Liberty’s Michael Farrior (12 points) hit a free throw early in the second quarter, but the Panthers didn’t notch their first field goal of the second quarter until Freddie McSwain (8 points) hit a jumper with 2:34 to play in the first half. Before McSwain’s bucket, the Panthers had only managed to hit the rim three times during the quarter.
    “We kind of got them out of their game,” said Hill. “That really kept them from scoring and it put us in position to get some points in transition.”
    After Statesboro took a 35-19 lead into halftime, Liberty was able to pick up the scoring, but never cut into the deficit.
    Coming off of the bench, Jerquale Lee and Jadarius Smith hit back-to-back 3s for the Devils to press the lead over 20 points midway through the third quarter.
    The Devils’ starters continued to pile on and Lee connected on another 3 just before the buzzer to put SHS up 50-27 going into the fourth quarter.
    Taylor scored eight of his points early in the final period to put the game well out of reach and the Devils’ reserves played out the final five minutes of action.
    With Friday’s win, a victory over Wayne County next week in Jesup will secure the top spot in the sub-region for the Blue Devils.
    “We know that next week is going to be big,” said Hill. “We want to make a run in the region tournament, and winning the sub-region and getting a good seed is the first step with that. It’s going to be another tough one, but we’re going to try and get another win.”

Lady Devils roll

    The Statesboro girls picked up a crucial sub-region win as they cruised to a 70-47 win over Liberty County.
    The Lady Devils (15-6, 3-1 Region 3-AAAA) and Panthers were neck-and-neck throughout the early minutes, but Statesboro began the second quarter on a 16-2 run, building a comfortable lead that lasted the rest of the game.
    “These games are already getting big for us,” said SHS coach Jeff Seier. “Looking to the region tournament, we didn’t want to have to play on the first day. This win really helps us in avoiding that.”
    Shanikwa Buie paced Statesboro with 22 points and 13 rebounds, easily continuing her double-double average for the season. Kyera Whitaker pitched in another 13 for the Devils. Caja Williams also reached double-digits with 10 points.
    Bryonna Graham scored 21 for Liberty County, but was the only Panther to record more than eight points. Graham scored six in the first quarter to force a 12-12 draw after the first eight minutes of play, but Statesboro quickly took the upper hand.
The Devils clamped down on defense to force turnovers on each of the Panthers’first five possessions of the second quarter. Four of those turnovers were converted into easy layups on the other end of the court.
“In just about any sport, getting a good effort on defense is going to help you,” said Seier. “We started to tighten up and play better as the game went on and our offense was able to get going and get us a lead.”
Statesboro maintained a steady lead through the second period and a put-back by Whitaker gave the Devils a 30-21 halftime lead.
Buie went to work in the second half, scoring Statesboro’s first six points of the third quarter. Buie continued to dominate inside and Khayasia Rollins connected on a pair of jumpers to lead SHS to a dominating 52-35 lead after three quarters.
Statesboro kept rolling along in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter before substitutes entered for both teams to play out the rest of the game.
    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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