Statesboro High's boys needed a win Tuesday night to set up a matchup with New Hampstead for the region championship Friday. The Blue Devils accomplished that easily, defeating Ware County by a count of 73-45.
The Blue Devils (19-4, 6-0) topped 70 points for the second consecutive game, riding the hot hands of their trio of seniors on senior night. Tray Burns scored 15, Tyler Goodman had 15 and Daniel Cooper added nine points.
“I’m so proud of those seniors,” said Statesboro coach Lee Hill. “Those are three good kids. They stepped up and played hard, and did what they had to do.”
The Blue Devils opened up the game on an 8-2 run on a Cooper layup. They’d extend their lead to 17-8 at the end of the first on a Joe Burns three pointer.
In the second Statesboro would start to pull away. Back to back layups from Tray Burns made the score 25-11. Cooper added a pair of three pointers for a 34-20 halftime lead.
In the second half the lead continued to balloon as back to back steals and layups from Goodman and Tray Burns extended the lead to 45-22.
Ware County continued to press Statesboro full court in the fourth, and the Blue Devils continued to make them pay. Statesboro increased their lead to 26 points in the fourth on a pass from Tray Burns to Cooper for an easy layup. Statesboro would end up winning by 28 points.
“The first half we did a lot of pressing which led to easy baskets,” Hill said. “In the second half they tried to press us and we were able to break it pretty easily and score more easy baskets.”
Statesboro is 6-0 in region play and travels to New Hampstead — which is 6-1 — Friday. If Statesboro wins, the Devils will be region champs. If they lose, the region title will be decided on an important coin flip, as the winner of the boys' region will host the region tournament which begins next week.
“It’s a big game Friday,” Hill said. “I just hope we can come out and play like we have lately. The kids seem to have their heads on right and are playing hard, hopefully we can go down and pick up a win."
Zarion Griffin added 12 points for Statesboro while Joe Burns had nine. Ware County was led by Adarius Scott with 14 points.
Lady Gators 53, Lady Devils 42
The only region loss the Statesboro girls have had all season was to Ware County. Looking for payback in their home gym, the Blue Devils ended up falling to the Gators once again — this time by a final of 53-42.
The Blue Devils' kryptonite this season came back to hurt them again as leading scorer Lacy Robins picked up three fouls in the first half, limiting her play and helping contribute to a 28-21 halftime deficit.
“We have to learn how to play without Lacy in the lineup,” said Statesboro coach Jeff Seier. “Hopefully we will get a chance to play these guys again, maybe for a region tournament championship.”
Statesboro (13-8, 3-2) had its moments as a Robins 3-pointer cut the Gator lead to 13-12 early in the second quarter, but Ware County then went on an 8-2 run and would take a seven point halftime lead.
Both teams came out a little flat in the third with the Gators outscoring the Blue Devils 10-6.
In the fourth, Statesboro cut the lead to five at 44-39 on a Robins 3-pointer with 3:15 to play. But Robins picked up her fifth foul only seconds later, and with her out Ware County outscored Statesboro 9-3 the rest of the game to notch its nine-point victory.
“I thought we came out and played hard, and matched their intensity pretty well,” Seier said. “We were a little off in our shooting tonight and we will have to play better the next time we play them.”
Statesboro is currently in third place in the region with two left to play. SHS travels to New Hampstead Friday and goes to Wayne County next Monday for a make-up game with the Lady Yellow Jackets.