It’s going to be tough for Statesboro to top last season’s run to the Final Four of the state playoffs, but Blue Devil star guard Zaquavian Smith is up to the challenge.
Smith is no stranger to exceeding expectations.
He burst onto the scene as a freshman, providing help to an SHS squad desperately looking for a second scoring threat. Smith continued to pour in points during his sophomore season, but really emerged as a team leader during his junior campaign.
Now he has one more season to see what else he can add to his already-impressive legacy.
“Zaquavian has been a huge part of our offense and he will be again this season,” SHS coach Lee Hill said. “He’s been able to have some big nights for us. Hopefully we have some more guys that can help with the scoring this season, but it’s always great to have a guy on your team that can take over a game.”
Smith showed his explosiveness throughout the season, but never more so than the Region 3-AAAA title game when he put up 48 points to help the Devils defeat Butler. The offseason doesn’t seem to have slowed Smith down a bit as he has reached double-digit scoring in every game of Statesboro’s 4-0 start.
Southeast Bulloch’s girls basketball team made its first state playoff appearance in over a decade last season.
As for a repeat performance this season — so far, so good. The Lady Yellow Jackets opened the 2013-14 season with a 56-25 victory over Bryan County last Friday in Brooklet.
If the Jackets want to once again compete for the postseason in one of the most challenging regions in Class AAA, it will need plenty of leadership. That’s where senior Philicia Batton looks to make her mark in her final season. Batton had a breakout season last year and is looking to continue being a solid post presence on a Yellow Jacket team that has often lacked a post game.
“I think we had a lot of girls step up last season,” SEB coach Johnnie Miller said. “This was a team with some good talent, but one that wasn’t used to winning. I think girls like Philicia and Jasmine (Roberts) really helped to change that attitude.”
Batton should combine with Roberts to make a dangerous 1-2 punch in the duo’s final season. Roberts is a threat to score 20 or more each night while Batton controls the game’s pace with the ability to change possession or keep the Jackets’ scoring chances alive with tough rebounding inside.