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Hustle, chemistry keys SHS success
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Statesboro High's Staysha Everett, center, scores over Bradwell's Briana Johnson during a Lady Blue Devil victory last week. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    Team chemistry. It’s something many teams try to manufacture but few can produce. A team’s chemistry can make or break a season.
    This year, the Lady Blue Devils have plenty of chemistry and it’s starting to show on the court. Not only has Statesboro (8-2, 2-2 Region 3-AAAAA) surpassed its region win total from the year prior, but the team matched its season win total from last year as well.
    In terms of team chemistry, don’t ask Statesboro girls basketball coach Jeff Seier why this year’s team seems to be working more cohesively. The truth is, he isn’t quite sure.
    “I wish I could bottle that up and tell you the formula for doing that. I’m not really sure what caused the friction last year, and if I knew I would have put a stop to it,” Seier said a day after his team’s eighth win of the season. “I don’t know why they’re getting along so well this year, if I did, I’d definitely encourage that type of behavior. They are clicking well together.”
    The Lady Blue Devils have a 12-man roster this season and Coach Seier makes it a point to use every single player. Whether it’s Molly Mikell, Chassity Budget or Yasmine Reynolds, the Lady Blue Devils have several capable players Seier can throw in the game at anytime. He thinks that may be one of the keys to this team’s success this season.
    “I think part of it is that we really do play all 12 players. There’s no one on the bench sulking or pouting because they didn’t get into the game. We run about two or three players in every couple of minutes. Everybody is getting a look and everybody is contributing to the team. I think that’s why the team chemistry is better,” Seier said. “It’s a lot more fun coaching a team that’s getting along. Especially young teenage girls.”
    Nonetheless, it takes more than good team chemistry to translate into wins on the court. For Statesboro, the wins are coming thanks to a pressure defense.
    Seier said he wants his team to hold their opponents to under 40 points per game. In 10 games, the Lady Blue Devils are giving up an average of just 37.3 points per game.
    “We like to press. We don’t like teams to get settled and we don’t like getting scored on,” said Statesboro center Kei-Sonna Rollins. “When we press, we play better and we get hyped up. We keep scoring and we keep stealing the ball. When we don’t press, we’re just waiting for it to happen.”
    Rollins, one of the team’s leaders in rebounds, said as long as her and her teammates can keep the opposition under 40 points, they can win the game.
    In Statesboro’s two losses this year, the Lady Blue Devils gave up an average of 53 points.
    This season the Lady Blue Devils have a mixed balance of size down low and foot speed at the guard position.
    The reason Statesboro didn’t press much last year is because the squad lacked the necessary foot speed on the court, Seier said.
    “I think we have a better team this year,” said Statesboro’s leading scorer and starting guard Staysha Everett. “We work better together this year and it’s a defensive team. Every game after we win we have fun.”
    Everett is in a new position this season, running the team’s offense from the point guard slot. The adjustment has been difficult at times, but is mostly fun, she said.
    “I’ve been working on my passes and looking for open players in the post,” Everett said. “It’s getting easier and I’m starting to like it.”
    The Lady Blue Devils have played exceptionally well early in the season, riding a three-game win streak, but Seier said now is not the time to celebrate. His players still have more work to be done. However you look at it, the team is doing it as one unit.
    “We have a motto this year, ‘all for one and one for all.’ That’s what the kids have been saying. We have an all-in philosophy,” Seier said.