Shaking off the cobwebs after the quick break over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Statesboro girls got right back to top form. Hosting Swainsboro Saturday night at the Devil’s Den, Statesboro got out in front quickly and never looked back in cruising to a 61-17 victory.
For a team that has made it to the Elite Eight in each of the last two seasons, Saturday’s win was just another small step towards this season’s lofty expectations.
"I think that we were just a little too much for Swainsboro," said SHS coach Jeff Seier. "I was still glad to see us come out and play the way we expect to."
Seniors Alisia Jenkins and Sierra Kirkland both cracked double-digits for the Devils with both racking up 13 points. Shanikwa Buie chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds.
Jonina Brown was the top scorer for Swainsboro with eight points.
The Lady Blue Devils — 5-0 on the season and ranked third in the Class-AAAA polls — wasted no time in taking the advantage.
Statesboro won the opening tip and Buie recorded the game’s first points with a layup just three seconds into play. From there, the Devils’ relentless press widened the gap. Shaken by the pressure, the Lady Tigers turned the ball over on their first three possessions and Statesboro led 7-0 before Swainsboro ever got the ball across midcourt.
The pressure continued throughout the first quarter as the Tigers turned the ball over 10 times in the first eight minutes. The Devils made the most of their takeaways, running up an 18-4 lead after the first quarter.
"We just took Swainsboro out of the game," said Seier. "We got to them early and kept them from getting in any kind of rhythm while we built a lead."
Sensing a game that they could put away in the first half, the Devil kept the gas pedal pressed down in the second quarter. Statesboro didn’t allow another Tiger point until Dajha Carswell’s jumper with less than two minutes to play in the period. Statesboro had scored the first 10 points of the quarter to take a commanding lead and Carswell’s points did little to stop the onslaught as the Devils took a 32-8 advantage into halftime.
About the only thing missing from Saturday’s effort for the Lady Devils were the vanity stats.
Jenkins and Kirkland enter the 2011-12 season as a pair of the most formidable forwards in the state. At least one of the duo had recorded a double-double in each of Statesboro’s first four games, but — because of the high shooting percentage for SHS and the Devil defense denying so many shots — neither could reach the mark against Swainsboro.
"Our first group didn’t get as many minutes tonight," said Seier. "Of course, a lot of it is our shooting. Many of our girls shot the ball very well and made it so we didn’t have to grab too many rebounds."
In the second half, the Devil reserves got a good chunk of the minutes in an effort to give some of the younger players some experience. Even with the starters playing intermittently, the Devil lead continued to rise and Statesboro’s 49-14 advantage heading into the fourth quarter set the mercy clock into action for the final period of play.
Statesboro 56, Swainsboro 49
Statesboro shook off a loss to Jenkins last week, coming out of the Thanksgiving break with a 56-49 victory over Swainsboro.
Yakeem Coleman led the Blue Devils (2-1) with 15 points and Johnathan Taylor added 11.
Statesboro is off during the next week, then travels to Northside, Warner Robins December 3.