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Devils go down to buzzer
ARC spoils Senior Night
020907 SHS HOOPS 1
Statesboro High’s Patrick Parker, left, battles Richmond Academy’s Corey Bynes for a rebound in the fourth quarter of the Blue Devils’ 53-52 loss Friday night.
    Senior Jared Houston got hot Friday night in the fourth quarter — just not hot enough.
    Houston’s miss from just inside the arc with two seconds to go sealed a region 3-AAAA sub-region championship for the visiting Academy of Richmond County in a 53-52 final.
    “They showed some character tonight,” said ARC head coach Steve Nobles of his team. “You know (SHS) is going to bring it. We knew they were going to make a run. Coming down the stretch we just had to take care of the ball.”
    Trevor Welcher’s free throw with 11.8 seconds left proved to be the difference. The Devils did a good job of containing the explosive point guard, holding him to 15 points on 5 of 13 shooting.
    It was the Statesboro guard, Houston, which fueled the SHS comeback. Houston drained three straight 3s in a span of 4:33 to bring the Blue Devils (14-10, 5-3) back to within two at 52-50.
    Senior Sean LeGree’s two free throws with 1:20 left tied the game at 52, and Musketeer Loce Hill’s miss gave SHS the ball with 47 seconds left.
    “We we’re supposed to turn it, not run it and supposed to get one shot,” said SHS head coach Lee Hill. “(Houston) took a quick shot and we talked to him about that. My point guard should’ve called timeout, maybe I should have... we wanted one shot and maybe then get it to overtime.”
    The loss means SHS will still host Tuesday’s first-round playoff game against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. The rest of the region 3-AAAA tourney, however, will be played at ARC.
    Statesboro trailed by as many as nine in the third quarter, thanks in part to an 8-2 Musketeer run. Justin Houston, who finished with 11 rebounds and 10 points, hit a put back at the buzzer to close the gap at 45-39.
    The Blue Devils were doomed by poor shooting in the first half, shooting just 25 percent from the field. Once ARC (16-9, 7-1) took an 18-16 lead in the second quarter, they never trailed again.
    “The key for us was missing ga-dang layups,” said Statesboro’s Hill. “We weren’t patient enough.”
    The Blue Devils jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the first behind four from LeGree. The Musketeers would counter with a 7-0 run to take an 11-10 lead thanks in part to the post play of ARC’s Hill who scored all 11 of his team’s points. He finished with a game-high 20, 16 coming in the first half while Welcher was held scoreless.
    “Loce Hill was big tonight,” said Nobles. “We expect that from Loce. He’s part of the cogs that make our machine run.”
    Jared Houston led SHS with 12, one of just two Devils in double figures. Forward Corey Bynes was a catalyst for ARC in the second half, finishing with a double-double of 12 boards and 10 points.