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Devils survive quarterfinals
SHS web
Statesboro's Yakeem Coleman (5) reaches for a rebound in the second quarter against Richmond Academy on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Region 3-AAAA tournament. Coleman scored the game-winning layup with 1.4 seconds to go as the Blue Devils held on to win, 62-60, and advance to the semifinals. - photo by JAKE HALLMAN/special to the Herald

    Yakeem Coleman spent the entire regular season working to get his Statesboro Blue Devils into a position to make noise in the offseason, so there was no way he was going to let the fun end after one game.
    Staring down an upset bid by Richmond Academy in the quarterfinals of the Region 3-AAAA tournament Wednesday at the Devil’s Den, Coleman drove the lane to sink a layup with 1.4 seconds remaining to give Statesboro a 62-60 victory.
    “He’s one of our stronger players,” SHS coach Lee Hill said of his senior guard. “We just wanted to spread out the floor and give him room. He attacked hard and got his shot.”
    With the win, the Devils (24-3) clinched a spot in the Class AAAA state tournament. They will take on Glenn Hills — which accounted for one of Statesboro’s three losses back in December — in the region semifinals today at 5:30 p.m.
    For much of the night, it looked like the Musketeers — who came in as the tournament’s lowest seed — were going to send the SHS crowd home unhappy. ARC (6-18) utilized pinpoint shooting and a tenacious defense to build a 21-8 lead early in the second quarter.
    Even as Statesboro’s shooters found a rhythm in the second half, the Musketeers wouldn’t go away.
    Moses Lewis (16 points) and Tony Daggett (14 points) each connected four times from behind the arc to keep the game neck and neck coming down the stretch.
    “Richmond didn’t have a good seed, but they’re playing good basketball,” Hill said. “That’s what is scary this time of year. You want to be playing your best basketball and you don’t want to run into teams that are playing their best.”
    But it was Statesboro’s guards that finally prevailed.
    Zaquavian Smith — who led all scorers with 23 points — tied the game at 55-55 with a deep 3 with just over three minutes to go. On the next possession, he drained another to give the Devils a lead.
    Johnathan Taylor converted an offensive rebound into a put-back with 56 seconds to play for a 60-57 lead, but ARC answered on the other end to pull within a point.
    After Statesboro turned the ball over, Frank Roberts was fouled and went to the line with 23.4 seconds to play. Roberts sank his first free throw, but missed the second, setting up Coleman’s game-winning play.
    The Musketeers had one final shot for a desperation heave, but Daggett stepped out of bounds just after receiving the inbounds pass to seal the win for Statesboro.
    By getting the win, Statesboro kept alive an astounding streak.
    Now in his 35th year at the helm of the Devils, Hill has still never missed the state playoffs in consecutive seasons.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (012) 489-9404.