Trees are decorated, school is just about out and radio stations are pumping out the carols nonstop, but it isn’t quite Christmas until the Statesboro boys basketball team has taken on some of Georgia’s best at the annual U-Save-It tournament on the road at Albany.
The Blue Devils (6-3) once again make the trip across the state to be one of 12 highly-talented schools squaring off from Friday through Monday at Albany High School.
“This tournament is always a big highlight of our season,” SHS coach Lee Hill said. “I know our guys are excited. They were hoping to leave (Thursday) just to get to Albany and practice a day early. They love seeing how they stack up against all of those talented teams.”
Statesboro will get a chance to prove its mettle as it faces a tough draw.
The Blue Devils face Dougherty tonight at 7 p.m., take on Early County at 4 p.m. on Saturday and wrap things up with a showdown against North Clayton Monday night at 7 p.m.
Last season, this tournament served as a launching pad for the Devils. Statesboro won two of its three games in Albany and dropped just two more contests in its next 20 tries during a run all the way to the Class AAAA Final Four.
After a few early season hiccups, the Devils are hoping for history to repeat itself.
“That’s part of why we play tournaments with good teams from all over,” Hill said. “We get to se the kind of teams that we might have to face down the road and we get to do it in a tournament atmosphere. This tournament and the one we host after Christmas are going to tell me what we need to change or improve to get where we want to be.”
Following this weekend’s action, the Devils will close out 2013 with their Gentlemen’s Classic before beginning their Region 3-AAAA schedule.
Lady Devils head to Macon
Statesboro’s girls squad knew that it still had some growing up to do coming into the season. There have been bright spots and setbacks so far, but the Lady Devils are about to get a trial by fire.
Statesboro heads to Macon today for the Middle Georgia Classic hosted by Rutland. Immediately following Christmas, Statesboro heads up to Augusta for another tournament. In all, the Devils are about to play six games in 10 days.
“We’re definitely going to see who can play for us and who might still need a little time,” SHS coach Jeff Seier said. “These games will be the last chance we get to have our rotation set and figure out what we want to do when we jump into the sub-region schedule in January.”
The Lady Devils take on Westside, Macon tonight, with Hawkinsville and Rutland following on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
Statesboro’s youth will likely force it to continue to piece together game plans in order to set itself up for a run in the region and a possible return to the state playoffs. The next 10 days will be hectic, but offer plenty of experience for the girls who are looking to step up and become contenders.
“Even if we struggle a little, the sun comes up tomorrow and you go out and play again the next day,” Seier said. “That’s why I don’t always like playing our Tuesday-Friday-Saturday schedule. We don’t want our girls having to dwell on something for a few days. We want them back out there, ready to play again.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.