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Devils swept by Beach
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SHS’s Tiffany Lee, bottom, scrambles for a loose ball with Beach's Charmaine Greene Tuesday.
    In the end, Beach was just a little too much.
    Statesboro battled back from a seven point fourth-quarter deficit, but the Lady Blue Devils (6-1) faded down the stretch with star Monnette Bennett on the bench, falling 52-46.
    Bennett fouled out with 2:06 left on the clock and the game tied at 44. The Lady Bulldogs took a 45-44 lead on Khalilah Watson’s ensuing free throw, and Beach never trailed again to hold on for the win.
    BHS took a one-point lead with 2:35 left in the first half. It was a constant struggle for SHS from there on out.
    “It certainly didn’t help having Mo on the bench for the last two minutes of the game,” said SHS coach Jeff Seier. “But I really thought the girls that were on the court responded well — gave us a chance in the ball game. We really didn’t need to win the game to prove anything. We wanted to find out if we were contenders or pretenders, and there wasn’t any pretending going on out there. I though the girls played real well and showed they’re a contending team.”
    Trailing 23-19 coming out of the break, SHS quickly found itself down nine after five quick BHS points.
    But a big block on the defensive end by Gwen Jones seemed to ignite the Lady Devils, and SHS reeled off six straight to close the gap and trail 38-33 going into quarter four. Soon enough, Bennett began to take over the game.
    The senior Georgia Tech commit closed the margin to 42-40 on a steal and a lay-in in which she used consecutive spins to get past two different defenders, then found Tiffany Lee under the basket to tie the game at 42. Bennett’s one-handed put back at the 2:48 mark knotted the game at 44, but two fouls over the next 42 seconds ended the senior’s night.
    Without Bennett in the game, including the first half when the forward was hit with two early fouls, Statesboro became careless with the ball, turning it over 24 times.
    “That’s what Beach does, they kind of get you out of your offense and get you frazzled a little bit,” said Seier. “But really for the most part we did pretty well. When Mo went out of the game sometimes we got a little helter-skelter. We’re going to work on that and get better.”
    Statesboro jumped out to an early lead on the strength of a Kittrella Mikell 3 from the top of the key to make the score 9-6. A Bennett bucket, stolen inbound pass and assist pushed the lead to 13-8, and SHS eventually was sitting pretty with a 16-10 first quarter lead.
    But Beach (4-0) bounced back with a 13-3 second quarter, holding SHS scoreless over the final 5:16 of the half and taking a lead it never relinquished.
    Watson led the Lady Bulldogs with 14 while University of Georgia commit Monique Willis had 12.
    Jones and Lee were monsters under the glass all night for SHS. Lee ended with a double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling down 12 boards. Jones had 13 rebounds of her own while chipping in three points.

Bulldogs 64,
Blue Devils 47
    In the boys’ match-up, it was all Beach all night.
    James Fields had 28 points, five assists,  five rebounds and two steals as BHS (4-1) never trailed behind a sloppy Statesboro squad.
    The Bulldogs jumped out to a commanding 21-7 lead in the first quarter behind Fields’ 14. The future Georgia State guard hit three 3s in the period from all over the court.
    The Blue Devils (2-2) recovered in the second frame and only trailed eight going into the half at 35-27. But that’s as close as they came all night as lackadaisical passes and careless ball handling led to easy buckets for the Beach boys.
    “I’m very disappointed in the way we turned the ball over,” said Statesboro coach Lee Hill. “We knew they were going to come with a lot of pressure and trapping. I guess we just need to work on it more. We got the ball game to eight, then we just started turning the ball over again.”
    Statesboro’s only answer for Fields was Eric Ferguson. The junior forward finished with 28 of his own, but 20 came in the first half.
    Ferguson fouled out with 2 1/2 minutes to go in the game. Statesboro had no other scoring threat on the court.
    “They really kept the pressure on us and we really couldn’t feed the post,” said Hill. “We just got to get better guard play to take care of the basketball.”
    The Blue Devils climbed within eight on a Diego Prince 3 from the left wing at the at the 6:15 mark, but Fields answered on the other end with a 3-point play to demoralize the home crowd and its fans.
    Rashad Lee had 10 for SHS, the only other Blue Devil in double figures. Antonio Smith had 13 for BHS.