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Lady Devils take title

    GUYTON — After being pushed to the brink Friday night, the Statesboro girls did without the drama on Saturday.
    Tied with South Effingham early in the second quarter, the Lady Blue Devils ripped off a 24-5 run and never looked back as they earned a 58-42 victory to clinch the Region 2-AAAA championship.
    Saturday’s win marked the second consecutive region title for the Devils. With the win, Statesboro earned a No. 1 seed and will host the No. 4 seed out of Region 4-AAAA Friday in the opening round of the Georgia High School Association state playoffs.
    “It feels great right now,” said SHS coach Jeff Seier. “Winning the region was a goal that we’ve had set since the beginning of the season. We worked hard to get here, but now we need to keep playing well to play as many more games as possible.”
    The Devils were once again led by their dominating front line of Alisia Jenkins and Sierra Kirkland.
    Jenkins notched seven of her team-high 12 points in the second quarter to help start the decisive run and Kirkland added 11 points to go with her eight rebounds.
    “It was good to see (Jenkins and Kirkland) get going,” said Seier. “I don’t think they played their best game in the semis, but they both played very well tonight.”
    A short jumper by Jenkins midway through the third quarter pushed the SHS advantage to 34-14 and the Devils were able to slow the pace of the game and start the celebration early. As South Effingham got desperate, suffocating defense led to five third quarter turnovers and easy baskets in transition for the Devils.
    Leading 47-20, Shanice Walker’s 3-point attempt at the end of the third quarter could have forced the mercy clock into action, but the shot rimmed out. Regardless, the final eight minutes were little more than a victory lap for the Devils.
    For the Lady Mustangs, Saturday served as another reminder that while Cinderella usually finds a way to crash the party, the clock always strikes midnight at one point or another.
    South Effingham struggled through much of the regular season, but caught fire at just the right time. As the No. 4 seed out of the ‘B’ sub-region, the Mustangs defeated xxx in the first round before upsetting ‘A’ sub-region top seed Glynn Academy to earn their first trip to the state playoffs since 1999.
    They found enough magic for another win in the semifinals, defeating Brunswick in a 74-71 thriller, but ran out of luck against Statesboro.
    Saturday’s final started out slowly as South Effingham scored the game’s first two points, then ran a slow paced offense in an attempt to keep the ball out of the hands of Statesboro’s potent attack.
    The Devils only managed a 7-6 lead after the first quarter. After the Mustangs tied it up early in the second quarter, Jenkins connected on a short jumper that started the SHS run and put the Devils ahead for good.

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