The Statesboro girls got their 2011-12 home schedule off to a great start, steamrolling Claxton by a final count of 63-32 Monday night in the SHS Ladies Night Out tournament.
Sierra Kirkland registered a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists, Alisia Jenkins led Statesboro with 14 points, and a total of 10 Lady Blue Devils scored points on the night.
The Devils were never threatened as they raced out to a big lead early.
Shankwa Buie and Aneisha Drummer combined to score the first eight points of the game. Polly Murray finally got the Lady Tigers on the board with a layup and a free throw 3:10 into the game, but Statesboro kept pouring it on, pushing the advantage to 18-3 after the first quarter.
"We were a little bigger and a little faster than Claxton," said SHS coach Jeff Seier. "We knew that we could give them a tough time if we executed the way we wanted to. I think we did that and I was proud of the way our girls played tonight."
In the second quarter, Claxton was a bit more effective as Murray got going, hitting a 3-pointer and slicing through the lane for a tough layup.
But the rest of the Tigers couldn’t keep pace. Murray scored all but four of Claxton’s first half points and the Devils took a 33-12 lead into the break.
The second half offered no respite for Claxton as Statesboro stayed hot coming out of the locker room. A 9-0 run to begin the third quarter put the game out of reach at 42-12 before Murray sank a pair of free throws at the 4:30 mark of the period.
"We wanted to get out to a fast start in both halves," said Seier. "We wanted to keep the pace up. That allowed us to do a lot of what we like to do."
Statesboro pushed its advantage over the 30-point mark before the end of the third quarter and the mercy clock counted out the final period as both teams emptied their benches.
As impressive as the Statesboro offense was, the defense was just as noteworthy.
Murray enters this season as one of the top scoring threats in Region 3-A. She has ground up opposing defenses throughout her career with the Tigers. Murray managed 15 against the Devils Monday, but had to work for all of them.
Murray wasn’t the only Tiger to struggle as the Devils utilized a full-court press through much of the first quarter. The pressure forced Claxton into seven turnovers in the first eight minutes — many of those leading to easy points for Statesboro.
The victory runs the Devils’ record to 3-0 on the season after a pair of wins in Savannah over the weekend. The early season wins are nice, but Seier is more concerned with the strides his team is making with each passing game.
"We got to see a lot of girls out there tonight and I think everyone did a good job," said Seier. "I was really pleased to see Ericka McDade get out there for the first time off of her injury from last year. She looked good and it’s great to have her back."
In the first game of Monday’s action, Richmond Hill defeated Screven County by a score of 61-52.
Richmond Hill takes on Claxton tonight at 6 p.m., with Screven and Statesboro squaring off in the 7:30 p.m. game.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.