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Devils sweep Jackets to open season
Statesboro's Xavier Tolliver (1) draws a foul from Southeast Bulloch's Arsenio Wright while driving to the basket Saturday night. The Blue Devils won 64-38.
    Southeast Bulloch (0-1) kept it close for the first two quarters, but the Statesboro Blue Devils (1-0) outscored the Yellow Jackets 43-22 in the second half to open their season with a 64-38 home win Saturday night.
    “They kind of took us out of what we wanted to do offensively,” said SEB coach John Page. “We weren’t patient enough. We’ve got to work a little bit more on being patient and getting a better shot.”
    The defenses on both sides did not allow much of anything in the first two quarters, and Statesboro hit the locker rooms with a 21-16 halftime lead. The difference for SHS was a pair of Paul Herrington 3-pointers in the first quarter.
    Herrington came off the bench to finish the contest with nine points. Blue Devil Eric Ferguson led all scorers with 21 points and added 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and Rashad Lee added nine points of his own.
    “I thought overall as a team, we had a lot of good individual play,” said Devil coach Lee Hill. “Eric Ferguson and Rashad Lee played well for us, made some jumpers inside. Theo Rich (10 points) has been sick, and he played well for us. I thought Mario Jackson ran the offense well. He controlled the ball very well in the second half.”
    Tony Raymond led all Yellow Jacket scorers with 13 points. James Scott added 11.
    Statesboro out-rebounded SEB 20-19, and Southeast Bulloch turned the ball over 13 times in the contest.
    The Blue Devils jumped ahead early in the first quarter, and led 14-2 before SEB started clawing back early in the second. The Jackets went on a 14-2 run of their own and tied the game with 1:04 to go in the second when Gerald Williams fed Raymond and he knocked down a 3 to even the score at 16. An Antonio Owens 3 and a pair of Ferguson foul shots gave SHS the 21-16 edge at the half.
    “I was very pleased with the defense, especially the first half,” said Page. “The second half, we’ve got some work to do. I think we got a little tired, too. There are some things that we have to work on, but defensively I was very pleased.”
    Statesboro opened the floodgates in the second half. They went on a 14-4 run to start the first half, and had an 11-point advantage heading into the fourth. The Blue Devils out-scored SEB 24-9 in the final period.
Lady Blue Devils 48, Lady Yellow Jackets 9
    Monnette Bennett put up 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had six steals as the Statesboro Lady Blue Devils (1-0) took it to the Southeast Bulloch Lady Yellow Jackets (0-1) 48-9 Saturday night.
    The Devils jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, and held the Jackets scoreless until Olivia Melvin sank a foul shot with 14.7 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Devils kept coming and held a 37-5 advantage at halftime.
    “We were glad to see (a good defensive performance),” said SHS coach Jeff Seier. “We didn’t play particularly all that well against Bradwell in the scrimmage game on defense, but we did do a much better job of stopping penetration by the dribbler. Our kids were doing what they were supposed to do — moving their feet and getting in front of the basketball.”
    Jacket coach Mike Smith, in his debut as SEB head coach, was pleased that he was able to give a lot of his youth some playing time against the tougher Class AAAA competition, and was impressed with the way his veterans took charge at the end of the game.
    “It’s shell shock for some of (the younger players),” said the SEB coach. “I think tonight was a really good opportunity for them. We’re not going to see this kind of speed a lot during the year.
    “It’s good that they get out there to see it now. It helps them understand. We can always refer back to this game, and they’ll have something to draw off of.”
    Kasey Jones scored four points and had an assist, and pulled down five rebounds for Southeast Bulloch.
    “I think at the end, Kasey Jones showed her leadership,” said Smith. “I think we were kind of loose a little bit, and she kind of stood up and calmed things down, taking control on the floor, which is what we expect out of the senior.”
    The Yellow Jackets will travel to Portal for the second game of the season Tuesday. The girls play at 6 p.m. and the boys tip off at 7:30. The Statesboro boys return to action Friday night at home against Johnson at 8 p.m., and the girls take on Jenkins County Monday at 5:30 p.m. as they host the Ladies’ Night Out tournament.
    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.