After a pair of tough losses over the weekend, the Statesboro boys bounced back in style.
Southeast Bulloch put up an early fight, but the Blue Devils used a 17-6 run to close out the first half to build a safe cushion and pave the way for a 72-37 win Tuesday night at the Devils’ Den.
“It was good to get back to winning,” said SHS coach Lee Hill. “We’ve played a tough team and a good schedule. We’ve been dealing with some injuries and have a short bench, so it was good to see that we can still win.”
Leading 17-11 early in the second quarter, Statesboro made its charge.
Jaquell Havier recorded putbacks off of offensive rebounds on consecutive SHS possessions and received a pass for an easy layup off of a steal to record six points in just over a minute of play.
Blake Lundy (who led the Jackets with 20 points and nine rebounds) notched a pair of buckets during Havier’s personal run, but Alex Simmons (12 points) connected on two inside jumpers to extend the Devils’ lead. Zaquavian Smith hit a leaner at the one-minute mark and Willie Johnson banked in a 3 with 10 seconds to go to put the Devils up 34-17 at halftime.
“We started playing better defense and getting easier points,” said Hill. “At first, all of our offense was coming from the half court. Once we got some pressure, we opened it up.”
Sensing that SEB was on the ropes, Statesboro continued to pour it on in the third quarter.
Johnson hit a driving layup to push the lead to 20 points at 41-21 midway through the third quarter, and Quante Huff connected on consecutive jumpers to make it 55-27 and put the game out of reach heading into the final period of play.
Preston Smith got things started early for the Jackets. Smith notched a steal in the first minute and drove the length of the court for an easy layup, but SEB’s 2-0 lead was the only advantage it held in the game.
Huff, Johnson and Daniel Houston (11 points) each picked up short jumpers and Johnson added a pair of free throws to put the Devils up 8-2 midway through the first quarter.
“We always enjoy playing SEB,” said Hill. “(SEB coach) John (Page) always has his team well coached and ready to play. They give us tough games, but we were able to play pretty well and get this win.”
Lundy scored six points in the first quarter and was a force all night, but couldn’t quite get his Jackets over the hump.
SEB and Statesboro will both hit the road as they participate in next week’s U-Save-It tournament in Albany.
Lady Devils 73, Lady Jackets 22
Things got out of hand in a hurry in Tuesday’s early game as Statesboro’s girls easily coasted to a 73-22 win over Southeast Bulloch.
The Lady Blue Devils (7-0) showed exactly why they are the top-ranked team in Class-AAAA. SHS started off strong, built a big lead early, and never looked back.
“I was pleased with our effort tonight,” said SHS coach Jeff Seier. “We had the edge on SEB in some places and we were able to come out and take advantage.”
Utilizing their suffocating press, the Devils pressured to Lady Yellow Jackets into eight first quarter turnovers — most getting converted into easy buckets for Statesboro.
The lead reached double-digits quickly and Statesboro’s advantages in speed and height helped to further lengthen the lead as the Devils built a comfortable 41-11 lead at halftime.
The third quarter brought more of the same, and after taking a 61-16 lead, the mercy clock was set in motion for the final quarter.
Sierra Kirkland led the Devils’ offensive effort with 18 points, and Alisia Jenkins also topped the double-digit mark for points with 11. In all, 10 different Statesboro players recorded points as the bench emptied early and plenty of backups saw playing time.
“We divided it up into a couple of groups,” said Seier. “We had a lineup with all of our seniors, and one with our younger girls. We’ll have a lot of new girls that will have to produce next season and they looked good out there tonight.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.