Revenge might be best served cold, but for the Statesboro girls, there was no time like the present.
After losing for the first time this season last week at Northside, Warner Robins, the Lady Blue Devils rebounded Friday night at the Devil’s Den, taking a big first half lead and weathering a Lady Eagle charge to come away with a 49-36 victory.
“That was a real good win for us,” said Lady Devils coach Jeff Seier. “Northside is a state-caliber team, so it’s great to see us have success against someone on that level.”
Everyone contributed for the Lady Devils (5-1) in the winning cause. Ericka McDade was the only Statesboro player to reach double-digits with 10 points, but seven others chipped in to get the win.
The biggest difference from last week’s matchup in Warner Robins was that Statesboro was able to come out of the gate. While the first game was nip and tuck throughout, the Blue Devils got hot early Friday and built a 26-8 lead at halftime.
“Obviously, getting an early lead is going to help,” said Seier. “I think it gave our girls some confidence and let them know that we could win this game.
“Being at home was definitely big too. I’m sure Northside found out that it’s a little tougher when they’re the ones who have to ride a bus for two and a half hours. Having a good crowd and some more Statesboro fans in attendance really helped us out.”
Statesboro looked as though it was going to turn the game into a rout when it came out of the break on a 6-2 run, but the Eagles showed that they had a lot of fight in them.
Jasmine Wilson — who led all scorers with 21 points — led the charge for Northside as she helped to chip away at the lead, draining one of three 3-pointers midway through the third quarter and dropping a layup to pull within 38-27 late in the period.
“(Wilson) wasn’t hitting early on,” said Seier. “I think we got a little too soft on her. One shot went down, then another and another. When she got going, the rest of the team followed.”
Northside continued to battle, and a short jumper by Wykeria Fann got the Eagles within 40-31 with just 4:19 to play, but the Devils were able to break the Northside press, finding easy buckets and making their free throws to put the win on ice.
Statesboro 59, Northside 44
Keeping with the theme of the night, the Statesboro boys also got some payback for last week’s loss at Northside with a 59-44 win over the Eagles Friday night.
The Blue Devils gained the lead late in the first quarter and used a very solid and consistent inside attack to slowly pull away.
“Last week, we felt like we played way too sloppy,” said SHS coach Lee Hill. “We committed 18 turnovers and missed 18 free throws. We cut down on that this time and it made a big difference.”
Star guard Jaqawn Raymond led the way with 17 points and Brikeye Hendley added 10 more, but the biggest factor for Statesboro was the addition of some key players that had been preoccupied by its football team’s prolonged run in the state playoffs.
Playing in his first game of the season, Reggie Owens looked sharp in racking up 14 points, and both Michael Summers and Yakeem Coleman provided some much needed depth for the Devils.
“It changes everything for us,” said Hill. “Now we have 10 guys that we can run out there. Last week, we had to start some JV guys and (Northside) kind of wore us down. Tonight, we were able to keep up with them.”
Leading 28-21 at the half, a third quarter spurt put Statesboro in command.
Raymond accounted for five consecutive points as part of an 11-2 run that vaulted the Devils to a 41-26 advantage, and the Eagles were unable to connect on the offensive end to mount a comeback attempt.
The Devils will try to keep the momentum going tonight as they travel to Swainsboro at 7:30 p.m. to try and complete a season sweep of the Tigers.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.