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Blue Devils top ECI on hardwood
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    Statesboro head coach Lee Hill said he wanted his Blue Devils to play an up-tempo game Wednesday on Day 1 of the Emanuel County Institute. Hill got his wish
    Statesboro forced 24 turnovers (10 in the first quarter) with a tenacious defense and quick guard play, running away from host ECI 53-30 to improve to 5-5.
    “We came out, we played up-tempo, we pressed, got some easy baskets and that's the way we have to play because I don't think we've been shooting the ball well," said Hill
    The Blue Devils didn't have to worry too much about their shooting percentage against the Bulldogs (2-7). Statesboro opened the game on an 8-2 run and led 10-4 after the first quarter. Emanuel County Institute was held scoreless over the final 3:43 and was just 2-for-9 from the field. The Bulldogs shot 30.7 percent for the game.
    "We've been playing well on defense," said Hill. "We get after them and the kids understand what they need to do. Hats off to them, they played with a lot of heart (tonight). We didn't have a lot of size tonight, but Sean LeGree and Rashad Lee really stepped up."
    Statesboro was without Justin Houston (high school football all-star game), DeAngelo Tyson (out of town) and Patrick Parker (undisclosed) and was left with just 10 men on the roster.
    The limited bench forced Hill to start a four-guard line-up, led by Nakeavis Hunter who scored a team-high 11 points. All 10 Devils played and eight of them scored.
    Statesboro pushed their lead to 26-14 at halftime and emptied a packed house of fans at ECI in the process. By the time the third quarter started the gym was more barren than the shelves of a department store on Christmas Eve.
    The Blue Devils then opened the third with a 12-3 run and quickly dashed any hopes of a Bulldog comeback. Mario Jackson scored six during the quarter for Statesboro and finished with eight.
    Statesboro went the first six minutes of the fourth without scoring but ECI could only cut the lead to 45-28. Lee scored four points for SHS to finish off the game and ended up with 10 points and six rebounds. LeGree added six points and three rebounds.
    Donte Richards was the only player in double figures for ECI, dropping in 13 points and seven rebounds.
    Statesboro will take on East Laurens today in Day 2 action of the ECI Christmas Tournament with tip-off scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The Bulldogs will conclude the day with an 8:30 p.m. start vs. Metter.
    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912)489-9404.