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Devils sweep Jackets
010312 SHS SEB HOOPS 01
Statesboro High's Daniel Houston, top, gets behind Southeast Bulloch defender Corey McCollum, right, for a score in the second quarter of a game Tuesday night at SEB. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff


    BROOKLET — A tough schedule and a roster that lacks a lot of experience got the Statesboro boys basketball team off to a rough start to their season, but 2012 is looking good so far.
    A total team effort saw 11 players score for SHS as the Blue Devils (6-8) earned a 74-38 victory over Southeast Bulloch on Tuesday night at SEB. The win comes off of last week’s Gentlemen’s Classic, which saw the Devils drop two out of three games. Now, Statesboro heads into its region schedule with some momentum.
    “I think that we’re really coming together,” SHS coach Lee Hill said. “We played a tough schedule to start the season, but that’s what we wanted. We’ve really improved now that we’re getting to the most important games.”
    Both teams came out slow to start the night as they exchanged missed shots and turnovers in the opening minutes. Yakeem Coleman (seven points) got the Devils kick-started, scoring on two straight inside baskets and three free throws. Willie Johnson (10 points) then connected on a mid-range jumper and drilled a 3-pointer as the Devils built a 14-0 first- quarter lead.
    The Yellow Jackets (0-10) bounced back in the second half as they drove the lane. SEB got the ball inside consistently throughout the game, but Statesboro’s superior size made life tough.
    Devante Tremble’s 18 points led the Jackets, but much of it came on long jumpers as he was stifled in the lane.
    “We were missing a couple of our post players,” SEB coach John Page said. “We don’t have a ton of size, and when we had to play five guards at once, we sort of figured we’d have problems inside.”
    The Jackets battled to within 29-16 late in the second half, but Statesboro scored off of a turnover and Johnson nailed another 3-pointer to make it 34-16 at halftime.
    For SEB, the game was never really within reach, but sticking around with Statesboro — a team two classifications above it — for more than a half was encouraging. For a team that has struggled through the last few seasons, any improvement is something to build on.
    “We just have to keep measuring the intensity that we have to play with,” Page said. “We aren’t going to face too many teams better than Statesboro or the ones we played in Albany (at the U-Save-It tournament). We’re getting better, but we need to make it last for four quarters.”
    Leading, 38-22, in the third quarter, SHS started a run that put the Jackets away for good. Johnson hit yet another jumper, Kendrick Thompson and Alex Simmons each registered putbacks off the offensive glass, and Quantae Huff hit a pair of jumpers to make it 51-24 heading into the final quarter, where the Devils easily ran down the clock for the victory.   
    “I was pretty happy with everything we did tonight,” Hill said. “We shot the ball well, we played good defense and we executed the plays we set up. A lot of guys got a chance to play and we were able to look at some guys heading into region play.”
   
    Lady Devils 76, Lady Jackets 14
    Things got away from the Southeast Bulloch girls in their matchup against Statesboro three weeks ago and Tuesday night’s rematch was just another verse in the same song.
    After suffering their first loss of the season at the hands of Alcovy on Dec. 19, the Lady Blue Devils (12-1) made quick work of the Lady Yellow Jackets (2-7), rolling to a 76-14 win in their first game of the new year.
    “It was nice to get back out on the court,” SHS coach Jeff Seier said. “Nice to get tuned back up and start off the year with a victory.”
    Alisia Jenkins led all scorers with 17 points as 11 different Devils scored on the night.
    Gloria Lingle led SEB with seven points and was one of only a pair of Jackets to notch more than two points.
    “As for Southeast Bulloch, we know that they might not have been totally there,” Seier said, referring to last week’s fire that killed two girls who attended the school. “I’m sure that they’re struggling and maybe don’t have basketball at the top of their minds right now. We certainly wish them all the best.”
    Friday night, both the boys and girls of Statesboro open up Region 2-AAAA play as the Devils host South Effingham.
    Also on Friday, the Yellow Jackets begin their Region 3-AA slate as they play host to Swainsboro.

Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.