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Blue Devils moving on to second round of state
SHS web
Statesboro guard Jaylen Patrick rises above the Cross Creek defense to put up a shot during the second half of the Blue Devils' 66-54 victory over the Razorbacks Wednesday in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs at the Devil's Den. Statesboro will play Riverwood out of metro Atlanta in the second round. - photo by EDDIE LEDBETTER/staff

    Early on, it appeared as though the GHSA Class AAAAA state playoff matchup between Statesboro High School and Cross Creek would be a tight contest, featuring three lead changes in the first half.
    However the final score proved otherwise as the Blue Devils rolled to a 66-54 win over Cross Creek Wednesday night to advance to the second round of the sweet 16 round of the state playoffs.
    The Blue Devils (22-8) were led by their senior group, which accounted for 51 of the team’s total points.
    Myles White led the way with a team-high 20 points. Michael Salomon scored 18 points and guard Jaylan Patrick scored 13 points. Cameron Harvey had a solid game for Statesboro, scoring nine points.
    “Big win for us. Anytime you can win in the state playoffs is a big win,” said Statesboro head coach Lee Hill after the game. “Tonight, I thought we defended well. That was the key. We were struggling a bit on offense, but our defense kept playing. I like the way my kids are playing now. We make some mistakes, but we keep our composure.”
    The Blue Devils trailed Cross Creek (14-12) in the first quarter 10-3 but bounced back to take a 28-23 halftime lead.
    From there, Statesboro put their foot on the gas jumping out on a 12-0 run in the third quarter to go on top 40-23.
    “We came out and told them what we had to do. We told them to run the basketball and be more patient on offense. You see we worked the ball inside,” Hill said.  “One thing I told our team to do is rebound. (Cross Creek) would take long shots and we weren’t rebounding the ball well in the first half.”
    After pushing the lead to 20 points late in the third quarter, Coach Hill knew keeping the Razorbacks down would be a tough task. 
    Cross Creek found themselves down 17 points to Jones County in the Region 2-AAAAA playoffs Feb. 13, but bounced back to win 72-67.
    However, the Blue Devils handled Cross Creek’s press and managed to maintain the lead.
    “Last year we got a win in the first, so this is nothing new for us. We’ve been here before. As far as trying to win Saturday, that’ll be a new experience for us,” Patrick said. “I just told the team we had to pick it up another notch in the second half because we weren’t playing Statesboro High School basketball.”
    In the second half Patrick helped get post players White and Salomon going with his interior passing.
    White managed to score 14 points in the third and fourth quarter.
    “I know our team has something more that each one of us can give. Next thing you know we’re up 20. Coach told us to settle down and show class and play defense and everything would come easy to us,” Patrick said. “Tonight we were clicking on all cylinders. I knew if I could bring my level of play up and match (Michael Salomon) and Myles (White) everyone else would buy into it and get on the same page.”
    Up next for Statesboro is a trip to Atlanta to take on the 28-1 Riverwood Raiders. ate playoffs 75-58.