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Lady Blue Devils extend winning streak to 15 games

    Eleven months ago, the Statesboro and South Effingham girls basketball teams squared off in the Region 2-AAAA title game. While the stakes weren’t as high Friday night, Statesboro looked every bit like a team capable of taking its third consecutive region crown as it coasted to a 69-12 win at the Devils’ Den.
    By winning their region opener, the Lady Blue Devils (14-1, 1-0 Region 2-AAAA) extended their streak to 15 games played without a region opponent beating them — the last time being a loss to Glynn Academy back on Feb. 6, 2010.
    “These games are getting more important,” said SHS coach Jeff Seier. “We’re in that second season, and our goal is to win the region again. We tell our girls that they have to be ready to step things up.”
    From the opening tip, Friday’s contest was never in doubt. After managing just one point — on an Alisia Jenkins free throw — in the first two minutes, the Devils rattled off nine more in the next two minutes while keeping the Lady Mustangs (7-6, 0-2) off the scoreboard entirely.
    The run only grew from there as Jenkins (21 points), Sierra Kirkland (12 points, 8 rebounds) and Shanekwa Buie (11) scored almost at will inside the paint. Jenkins led the way for SHS all night and in every category, hauling in 14 rebounds, notching five steals, and blocking three shots.
    Statesboro chalked up the first 17 points of the game before Ta’Keia Marshall — the Mustangs’ leading scorer with seven points — hit a long jumper with 21 seconds remaining in the first quarter to give South Effingham its first points of the night.
    Making a bad situation even worse for the Mustangs was that three normal starters sat out with injuries. Forced to play with mostly backups, the Mustangs were constantly hounded by Statesboro’s relentless defense. The Blue Devil press recorded nine turnovers on the Mustangs’ half of the court alone and scored over one-third of their points off of turnovers.
    “South Effingham was trying hard,” said Seier. “The fact is that we were a little bigger, stronger and faster. We were able to execute on both sides of the ball, and that’s going to give you some wins.”
    The defense was at its best in the second half as SHS allowed just five points. Marshall scored three, while Alexis Williams — the only other Mustang to score on the night — added two.
With South Effingham unable to produce in any aspect of the game, the Devil offense put things into cruise control in the second half to notch the victory.
    Statesboro heads to Evans Tuesday as it continues region play.

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