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Portal be-devil-ed
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Statesboro High guard Jaylan Patrick, top, sinks an off-balance shot while drawing a foul on Portal's Malik Williams, bottom, during the first quarter Saturday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    If defense wins championships, the Blue Devils of Statesboro might be onto something this season.
    Statesboro’s defense Saturday night was relentless in a 73-38 victory over Portal, putting the team’s overall record at 6-1 and 2-1 in Region 3-AAAAA.
    “I hope we keep on winning like this,” said Statesboro head coach Lee Hill. “Once again, defense was the key. I thought we did better than what we started last night. I think we’re really starting to play together and I like how we’re passing the ball.”
    Coming off an Elite Eight appearance last year, the team seems poised to make another deep playoff run.
    Against Portal (2-4, 1-1 Region 3-A), Michael Salomon led the way with a game-high 20 points. Myles White had 15 points on the night, complemented by Jaylan Patrick’s 13-point performance.
    The Panthers, without leading scorer Darius Huff, relied on B.J. Prescott for the team’s offensive production. He finished the game with 11 points and Ronald Williams scored seven points.
    The game was close early on with 4:20 left to play in the first quarter. Statesboro held on to a slim, 10-9 lead. However, the Blue Devils picked up the defensive intensity, going on a 14-3 run to end the quarter.
    “This is what we expect. This team last year went to the Elite Eight. We have four seniors that are very good students that could be honor graduates and we feel like we have a chance because of the summer we had,” Hill said. “I know this is a special group and I’ve enjoyed them being around.”
    It was all smiles for the home crowd Saturday night as Portal continued to struggle against SHS press defense. In the second half the Blue Devils led by as many as 36 points.
    Portal attempted to cut into the lead with SHS starters out. Connor Washington had a couple of key baskets and finished with five points on the night.
    For the Blue Devils, the team will try to keep its two-game winning streak going as they face Richmond Hill Tuesday night.
    The Panthers will be on the road Tuesday to take on Johnson County.

Lady Devils 46,    Lady Panthers 35

    It appeared as though Portal may hand the Lady Blue Devils their third loss of the season, but Statesboro fought back in the second quarter to defeat the Lady Panthers 46-35 Saturday night.
    In the second installment of a cross-town rivalry matchup, the Lady Blue Devils outscored Portal 18-3 in the second quarter to cruise to their second win in as many nights.
    Despite the win, Statesboro High School head coach Jeff Seier said he wasn’t too pleased with his team’s performance.
    “We didn’t play our best game. We might be a little (tired) from last night. Number 22 for Portal (Chandelier Morgan) is a pretty capable shooter and we lost her a couple of times,” Seier said. “We let her get some shots up, and as a team we have to do a better defensive job.”
    Offensively, Keeba Redfield led the way for Statesboro with a team-high 13 points followed by Staysha Everett’s 12 points. Keisonna Rollins stepped up for the Lady Blue Devils in the second half to finish the game with 10 points.
    Statesboro, currently on a two-game winning streak, moves to 7-2 on the year with a 1-2 Region 3-AAAAA record.
    For Portal, the Lady Panthers are 2-4 on the year with a 1-1 Region 3-A record.
    Saturday night It was a tight game early as Portal held an 8-7 lead over Statesboro, but Statesboro’s press in the second quarter would prove to be too much for the Lady Panthers to handle.
    “I think their press kind of wore us down a little bit. We had some bad things happen and we kind of hung our head a little bit,” said Portal head coach Cliff Hubbard. “You can’t hang your head against a team like that.”
    Chandelier Morgan led Portal on offense. Morgan finished with a game-high 20 points.  Breyonna Raymond was also in double-figures against Statesboro, finishing the game with 11 points.
    “We have to be able to fight through adversity. I had to get on Chandelier Morgan at halftime because of some effort issues and I think she responded well. That’s really going to help us moving forward,” Hubbard said.
    Statesboro’s Rollins scored six points in the third quarter to help build the Lady Blue Devils’ lead to 31-21.
    However, Portal wouldn’t quit and implemented a trap defense to push the tempo. Hubbard said he was pleased with how the trap worked, but stated his team couldn’t run that type of defense for the entire game due to lack of numbers.
    “You have to give credit to Portal for not giving up. We had some non-starters in there, but they are certainly capable of playing well in a basketball game,” Seier said. “We just started going through the motions of playing a basketball game and Portal was hustling and making plays. We weren’t.”
    The Lady Blue Devils will have a few days to rest before a big region matchup against Richmond Hill at home, Tuesday.
    Portal is set to face Johnson County on the road Tuesday.

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.