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Lady Blue Devils clinch region championship
SHS Basketball
Stateboro High head coach Marty Holder and players Madison Lee, left, and Terrika Gibson thanks fans after defeating Brunswick for the region championship on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The Statesboro girls' basketball team was a perfect 20-0 entering Wednesday night’s region championship against Brunswick. The Pirates did all they could to prevent the Blue Devils from capping a remarkable regular season with a region title, but despite cutting the lead to two points in the fourth, a 12-3 run and clutch play by seniors Jamiah Jones and Bailee Roberts helped propel the Blue Devils to a 64-51 win and a region championship.

“This was a playoff atmosphere out here tonight and you want to show you can handle things on the big stage,” said Statesboro coach Marty Holder. “Our girls proved they can keep their composure and be poised down the stretch when we needed them to be. They punched us in the mouth, but we responded and that is what I wanted to see.”

The Lady Blue Devils have only had two games this year decided by less than double digits. The team that came the closest to beating them was Brunswick whom they beat 45-39 on Jan. 15. After the game Holder said he felt that game was a wakeup call for Statesboro. Wednesday the Pirates showed the same kind of physical play they had in their last trip to Statesboro, but once again the Blue Devils were able to come through with clutch play down the stretch.

Leading 47-45 the Blue Devils went on a 9-2 run to extend their lead to 56-47. Bailee Roberts scored seven points in the fourth, vehicle fellow senior Jamaiah Jones hit 7-8 free throw to put the game on ice.

“I am so proud of these girls and what they have accomplished,” said Holder. “I would also like to thank the Statesboro community for the support they have shown us all season long. I am so happy we have at least another game here at home, because I love to play in this gym.”

Statesboro came out hot as Madison Lee hit three straight three-pointers, but the Pirates fought back to close the gap to 12-10 at the end of the first. Statesboro tried to pull away in the second quarter, but again the Pirates clawed their way back to stay within striking distance 27-21 at the half.

The Pirates roared out of the gates in the third quarter actually outsourcing Statesboro 21-17 trimming the lead to 44-42 entering the fourth quarter. Statesboro was able to prevail in the fourth with a 20-9 advantage to seal the deal.

The Pirates game plan of being physical with Blue Devil point guard Jamiah Jones proved to be their downfall as Jones calmly sank 11-13 free throws and finished the night with a game high 17 points.

“J.J. is our leader and we flow how she goes,” said Holder. We knew they were going to play her in a box and one, but she did what we knew she was capable of, and other players like Bailee Roberts and Madison Lee really came through as well.”

The win secures the Blue Devils of the No. 1 seed in next week’s state championship opening round matchup and home court for at least the first two rounds if they advance. The game will be either Monday or Tuesday eveneing.

Elsewhere the Bulloch Academy Lady Gators will look to join Statesboro as region champs as they knocked off St. Andrews in the region semifinals 56-28. The Gators were led by Sophie Strickland with 13 points. Ashantay Noble had 12 points, while Armani Cooke added 11 points. Up next the Gators will play Trinity Friday at 7:00 for the region championship in Bellville.

The Southeast Bulloch boys have punched their ticket to the state playoffs as they traveled to Savannah and knocked off Beach 54-45. A.J. Williams led the Jackets with 13 points. Khristian Clark added 12 points while Tyler Griffin chipped in 11 points. Up next the Jackets head back to Savannah Thursday night to battle No. 1 seed Windsor Forest at 7:30.