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Ferguson fuels SHS to win at SEB's new crib
112407 SEB SHS HOOPS 1
Statesboro’s Eric Ferguson, center, draws a foul from Southeast Bulloch's Arsenio Wright during Saturday's game at SEB. The Blue Devils won 72-62. Ferguson finished with 35 on the night.
    BROOKLET — The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets (0-3) led the Statesboro Blue Devils 33-31 at halftime, but Eric Ferguson (35 points, 7 rebounds) went 10-for-13 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to lead SHS to a 72-62 victory in the inaugural game of SEB’s new basketball facility.
    The game was a close one the whole way. Despite Statesboro jumping out to an early 7-0 lead, turnovers kept the score close as the Devils gave it up eight times in the first period and a late Tony Raymond 3-pointer brought the score to 17-15 heading into the second. Raymond earned a double-double by adding 14 rebounds to his 17 points. James Scott matched Raymond as they led the Yellow Jackets with 17 points apiece.
    Southeast Bulloch tied the contest at 40 on a pair of Scott free throws with 1:52 left in the third quarter, but the Devils took a 44-42 lead into the fourth and never looked back.
    “In the second half, I thought we had to change up and do some different things,” said SHS coach Lee Hill. “We pressed them different — changed up the defense — and I think that was the key to the second half.
    “We went to a half court press, a zone press. We went from man-to-man to zone, and then switched back to man-to-man.”
    The Jackets adjusted by getting the ball into the post, but as the fouls racked up on both sides, free-throw shooting became the story of the second half. SEB was 5-for-6 from the line in the third quarter, but only hit 8-of-16 in the fourth. Of the 28 fourth-quarter Blue Devil Points, 17 came from the line.
    Both coaches agreed that the game was won at the line.
    “We didn’t rebound well,” said Jacket coach John Page, “but also, they made their free throws. (Ferguson) made them count when we fouled him. I think we put him on the line more than we needed to.”
    Statesboro out-rebounded SEB 37-33 in the contest and out-scored the Jackets 26-24 from the line.
    The only other Blue Devil that reached double-digits was Theo Rich, who added five rebounds to his 11 points.
Lady Blue Devils 36, Lady Yellow Jackets 12
    Victoria Mikell and Gwen Jones each scored 12 points as the Statesboro Lady Blue Devils out-scored the Southeast Bulloch Lady Yellow Jackets 36-12 on opening night in the new SEB basketball facility.
    The Jackets attacked the SHS offense all night, but could not match the Blue Devil scoring effort, putting up only six points in each half.
    “We’re still learning the offense,” said Southeast Bulloch coach Mark Smith. “We’re still having trouble finding our open shots. There’s certain things — we’ve got to learn to see when we are open and when to make the right cut to get open. Once they start to understand that part of the offense, I think you’ll see us starting to score more points. We do a terrible job right now of hitting the boards, so right now we’re a one shot and done team, and we can’t afford to do that.”
    Senior Kacey Jones led the SEB defense, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking six Blue Devil shots. She also led the Jackets in scoring with seven. Olivia Melvin and Kelley Hadden each grabbed four steals in the contest.
    The Jackets return to action on Tuesday night when they host Portal. Statesboro hosts Beach Tuesday. Both girls games tip off at 6 p.m. with the boys getting the start at 7:30.