By HORACE HOLLOMAN
After back-to-back 80-point-plus performances from the Blue Devils, made baskets were hard to come by Saturday night against Coffee County.
In the end, the Blue Devils stifled the Trojans late to move to 15-6 overall and 7-3 in Region 3-AAAAA in a 51-34 win.
Michael Salomon finished with a game-high 23 points while Cameron Harvey scored eight points. Starting guard Jaylan Patrick and Myles White finished the night with seven points each.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game because of how (Coffee County) plays. They run 12 guys in and they trap the whole time,” said Statesboro boys basketball coach Lee Hill. “We need to see that kind of team. They are very athletic and they give us problems.”
The Blue Devils’ problems didn’t start until the third quarter. Early on, it appeared as though Statesboro would dominate the paint all night.
Statesboro jumped out to a 16-6 lead in the first quarter, behind the play of Salomon and White. At the 2:33 mark in the third quarter, however, the Trojans began to make their move by going on a quick 6-0 run.
In the fourth quarter the Trojans full-court trap defense forced Statesboro to turn the ball over.
The final six minutes of the game was the deciding factor Saturday night. Statesboro clamped down on defense holding on to a 35-32 lead. The Blue Devils allowed just six points in the fourth quarter and only two points in the final six minutes.
“We live on defense. We’re not a great offensive team, but any given night we can play good defense,” Hill said. “They played good defense and held them. I’m just proud of the way they play defense when they have to.”
With the team locking down defensively, Salomon put the game out of reach on the offensive end.
The 6-foot-5 starting forward converted on an and-one basket with 5:43 left to play in the game to push the team’s lead to 40-32. On the Trojans’ next possession, the Blue Devils defense would force Coffee County to turn the ball over. Salomon finished in transition on the other end.
The next test for the Blue Devils will be on the road Tuesday night against Swainsboro.
Lady Devils 38, Lady Trojans 25
The Lady Blue Devils had a chance to relax a little in the final seconds of Saturday’s 38-25 region win against Coffee County—something Statesboro hasn’t experienced lately.
In the previous three games, the Lady Blue Devils (12-8, 3-7 Region 3-AAAAA) lost by two points or less to South Effingham, Camden County and Brunswick.
Statesboro’s win also snapped the team’s five-game losing streak.
Kei-Sonna Rollins led the way for the Lady Blue Devils with 13 points. Victoria Harris and Dayona Henry had big games for Statesboro, scoring nine and eight points respectively.
“We really needed to get a win. Hopefully we can win a few more games to get into the middle of the pack in the region tournament,” Statesboro girls basketball head coach Jeff Seier said. “Hopefully we can get the number five or sixth seed in the region tournament.”
Coming into Saturday’s game, Statesboro and Richmond Hill were tied for the No. 7 slot in the 10-team region.
The Lady Blue Devils will take on Richmond Hill to end the season Feb. 5.
“We’re still talking about the region tournament. That’s the season. We’re trying to get better each game and it seems like we do that,” Seier said. “If we could get two or three points better we could probably beat some really good teams.”
Against Coffee County Saturday, the Lady Blue Devils got off to a fast start by ending the first quarter up 10-2.
SHS led 22-13 at halftime, but the Lady Trojans started to mount a comeback.
Coffee County cut Statesboro’s lead to 29-22 with six minutes left in the game.
“They cut it down to a respectable margin with a lot of time left and I started to wonder, ‘hey are we going to fold and let up to a team that’s not as talented as us?’” Seier said. “The kids responded and got a few putbacks and blew it back up to 10 points.”
Staysha Everett scored her first points in the fourth quarter, but her buckets helped push Statesboro’s lead back up to 38-25. SHS ended the fourth quarter on a 9-3 run.
Next for the Lady Blue Devils will be Swainsboro on the road Tuesday. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m.