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SHS comes so close on Senior Night

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SHS comes so close on Senior Night

Statesboro's Kyera Whitaker, right, is fouled by South Effingham's Cate Anderson while trying to push the ball up the court in the fourth quarter on Friday.

    With Statesboro gearing up to host the Region 3-AAAA tournament next week, the Lady Blue Devils gave their home crowd a sneak preview of the exciting games to come.
    If Statesboro gets its way, next week will go a bit better.
    Bidding for an upset against South Effingham —which had already bested SHS for the sub-region’s No. 1 seed in the tournament — the Devils stormed to a second half lead and were ahead deep into the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hang on as the Lady Mustangs wrestled away a 50-46 win on Senior Night.
    “That was a tough one for us,” SHS coach Jeff Seier said. “We played well in some spots, but we just didn’t respond as well as I would have liked there at the end.”
    Trailing 28-20 late in the second quarter, the Devils (15-9, 3-3 Region 3-AAAA) went on a roll.
    Shanikwa Buie (11 points) drilled a 3 and Kyera Whitaker (11 points) added a free throw before halftime to cut into the deficit. Statesboro stayed hot coming out of the locker room, scoring the first eight points of the half to take a 32-28 advantage.
    But then the Mustangs (24-1, 6-0) showed why they will be one of the favorites to take the title at the region tournament.
    Tianna Germain — who led all scorers with 22 points — finally broke through for South Effingham’s first points of the second half at the 2:18 mark of the third quarter, then tied the game up with a short jumper on the Mustangs’ next possession.
    Statesboro managed to regain a 38-35 lead heading into the final period, but then saw shot after shot rattle in and out.
    Germain tied the game at 42-42 on a 3 with 5:08 to play, then gave the Mustangs the lead with a free throw with 3:00 to go.
    A layup from Buie rattled out on the other end of the floor and South Effingham’s Amy Jameson took over from there.
    Jameson hit a pair of free throws at the 1:54 mark to stretch the lead to 46-43, then hit a tough turnaround jumper with 1:19 to go to make it a two possession game.
    The Devils had plenty of open looks down the stretch, but couldn’t get any to fall as their upset bid slipped away.
    “That’s just the way it goes sometimes,” Seier said. “Some nights, all of the shots seem to fall. But sometimes it just seems like nothing will go in.”
    The defeat was the third-consecutive setback for Statesboro — its longest losing streak since the 2008-2009 season. That will have to turn around in a hurry if the Devils want to make the Class AAAA state tournament.
    “We need to realize that the season might only be one more game long,” Seier said. “We need to come out in the region tournament prepared to play a little better.”

Devils blow out Mustangs
    In the second game of the night, there was nowhere near as much drama, but plenty of fireworks.
    Statesboro connected on its first 11 shots from the field — including six 3-pointers — as it turned the game into a laugher early on and rolled to an 89-44 win over South Effingham. Leading the way for the fifth-ranked Blue Devils (23-3, 6-0 Region 3-AAAA) was Yakeem Coleman, who dropped 29 points. Coleman was one of four Devils playing their final regular season game Friday night and he celebrated by doing what he does best — knocking down 3s. Coleman hit his first five attempts from behind the arc and finished with eight total. He finished just one shy of Mitch Taylor’s single-game record for the Devils.
    In the first meeting between the teams last month, Statesboro struggled to a 36-31 win. That grind was a distant memory Friday as the Devils had surpassed their point total from the fist game with 5:17 to go in the first half.
    Having already clinched a top seed in the region tournament, the Devils completed their perfect run through region play. Statesboro will begin their Region 3-AAAA tournament Tuesday against the winner of a Monday play-in game.
    Statesboro will need to win at least its first game to qualify for the state playoffs.

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

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