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Region seeding on the line for Statesboro in Jesup

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Region seeding on the line for Statesboro in Jesup

    Back in November, Statesboro’s hopes for a sub-region title in football were dashed courtesy of Wayne County.
    Basketball is now charging down the home stretch and the Blue Devils again have a chance to clinch their sub-region — but will once again have to travel to Jesup and beat Wayne County in order to earn it.
    Unlike the football team, the basketball Devils (20-3, 4-0 Region 3-AAAA) have already found some success against Wayne County. Back on Jan. 11, the Yellow Jackets (17-2, 3-1) were dealt their first loss of the season as Statesboro notched a 53-44 victory in front of a packed house at the Devil’s Den.
    But to clinch a sub-region title tonight, they’ll have to take down the Jackets a second time.
    “It’s always tough trying to beat a team twice,” said SHS coach Lee Hill. “Especially when you’re looking at a team like Wayne County. I think that, aside from our first game, they’ve only lost one other one. It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere down there.”
    Another win for the Devils tonight will lock up a top seed as Statesboro prepares to host the region tournament in two weeks. With plenty of talent lying in wait on the other side of the region, a top seed will presumably give the Devils the easiest possible schedule moving forward.
    Of the three other region teams that boast gaudy records, Statesboro has a 2-1 record, including wins over Wayne and Burke County along with a close loss to No. 2 Glenn Hills.
    “The way that the region tournament is set up, it’s real clear,” said Hill. “No matter where we end up in the seeding, we need to win on the first night to get into the state tournament. That’s our main goal, but it would be really good to go into the tournament with a No. 1 seed.”
    There is no shortage of reasons that emotions will be running high in Jesup tonight.
    Along with the sub-region’s top spot and possible revenge for its earlier loss to the Devils, Wayne County is still coping with a season that has been both wildly successful and unimaginably tragic.
    The Yellow Jackets are among the best teams in Class AAAA, but have had to play the last month without Shaquille Morgan, who lost his life in a freak accident just before the first meeting with Statesboro.
    “I know that it’s been a tough time for Wayne County,” said Hill. “We saw a lot of that emotion in our first game. I’m sure that we’ll see the same thing when we walk into their gym.”
    If Statesboro can’t complete the season sweep of Wayne County, it will need a win over South Effingham in its final sub-region contest next Friday to stay in contention for a top seed in the region tournament.
    Statesboro High will host both the boys and girls Region 3-AAAA tournaments from Feb. 11-15. The final four teams in each tournament will advance to the GHSA state tournament.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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