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Devil Hoops looks to make noise in new region
SHS Basketball
After hauling in an offensive rebound, Statesboro High's Leslie Black finds his way to the basket impeded by Effingham County defender Jordan Goldwire during the fourth quarter on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT

The Statesboro Blue Devils tip off the 2022-23 season Friday night at home as they host Tattnall County. Both the girls and boys advanced to the state playoffs last season and both will be looking to make it a little farther as they drop back to Class 5-A this year. 


For the Statesboro boys head coach Keith LeGree lost three key players from a team that went 24-4 last year. The Blue Devils return starters Leslie Black and Kam Mikell as well as Raylin Grant. Statesboro will look much different this year though with the addition of some senior football players who haven’t played organized basketball in a few years. 


“There are a lot of unanswered questions out there,” said LeGree. “We really only have three guys with any experience and that is Leslie, Kam and Raylin. We have some good players who haven’t played in a while and I think they bring some maturity to the team as seniors and we also have some young guys who are going to be expected to play varsity minutes for the first time.” 


The Blue Devils could have as many as six football players playing significant minutes this year with the additions of James Flagg, A.J. Eason, Tyrell Hughes and Xavier Spells joining last year’s starters Leslie Black and Kam Mikell. 


“I think they definitely bring a toughness to the team,” said LeGree. “I feel we had a pretty tough team last year with guys like Albert and Tim Taylor but having those guys from the football team coming out gives us even more guys who are both strong and tough.” 


LeGree is hoping this is a group that will continue to grow with experience and gain chemistry as the season progresses. 


“This is a very coachable group and I feel they will buy into our program and our expectations,” said LeGree. “The seniors know this is their last go around and I can see they are hungry. I feel like this year’s team has a chance to be even better than last year’s team. Last year had a lot more experience but this year I feel we have a lot more weapons.” 


The Statesboro Lady Blue Devils posted their second straight 20-win season under head coach Marty Holder finishing 22-6 last season but lost in the first round of the state playoffs. This year the Blue Devils lost two starters from last year but Holder is confident they won’t be taking a step backwards as he leans on a frontcourt of 6-4 Alyssa Staten, 6-3 Kennedy Myers and 6-1 Azziza Flowers.  


“I feel like our strength is with our post play this year,” said Holder. “Alyssa Staten has really grown up a lot in the off season and has actually helped us a lot with the growth of freshman Kennedy Myers. They will be playing a lot together this year along with Azziza Flowers who has taken her game to another level this year.” 


Holder feels the backcourt of Demia Hartwell and Reya Johnson complements the frontcourt greatly and is hopeful his young bench can improve steadily to add depth throughout the year. 

 

“We have so much length in the frontcourt and you add a couple of athletic guards in Demia and Reya and our starting five are going to be very strong. They all played a lot of ball together this summer and the key is going to be how our youngsters fit in as this will be their first chance at playing varsity basketball.” 


The Blue Devils open the 2022-23 season Friday night at home at 6:00 as they host Tattnall County.