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Blue Devils ready for second round of state

    The Statesboro Blue Devils were able to rebound from the region championship loss to New Hampstead as they knocked off Bainbridge 55-35 in the opening round of the Class 5-A state tournament.

The Blue Devils let the Bearcats hang around in the first half before finally putting them away in the second half, thanks to a 20-9 advantage in the third quarter. Coach Lee Hill is looking for the same kind of consistency the Blue Devils showed in the second half, as they move on to the sweet 16 with a trip to Dutchtown.

“In the opening round of the state, many times you can come out flat,” Hill said. “I was proud of how we picked things up, and I expect us to keep playing that way here in the second round.”

Thursday nights opponent — the Dutchtown Bulldogs — come in with a modest 15-14 record, and were only 8-8 in region play, but the addition of 6-7, 250 pound center Dontavius King (18 ppg, 7 rpg) has helped them to six straight wins, including a region title.

“Picking up King really turned their season around,” Hill said. “They beat the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in their region, and won their opening round game 67-64, so they come in with a lot of momentum.

In addition to King the Bulldogs sport a frontcourt of 6-7, 6-6 and 6-6. Coach Hill is hoping his team’s speed and quickness will help counter the Bulldogs size advantage.

“We are really going to have to rebound well, as big as they are,” Hill said. “We also have to try and slow down King. I believe if we push the tempo, and get their big guys tired we should have some success.”

The Blue Devils will also be counting on their talented trio of guards to shoot well against the Bulldog zone defense, and try and put defense pressure on them throughout the game.

“I think we have been listening to coach Hill more, and playing together as a team,” Tyler Goodman said. “They are a pretty big team, but I feel if we can stay focused we can win.”

“We feel like we can play a lot better than we did the other night against Bainbridge,” Daniel Cooper said. “As seniors we feel like we have to pick things up, and I feel we will Thursday.”

“”The big thing is staying together on the same page,” Tray Burns said. “We need to hold each other accountable and just play our game, and I feel we will be fine.”

Statesboro and Dutchtown are scheduled for a 7:00 tip off in Hampton.