SYLVANIA — The Southeast Bulloch girls have been improving lately, but they ran into a buzz saw Friday night.
Screven County proved why it has risen to No. 7 in the state rankings as the Lady Gamecocks demolished the Lady Yellow Jackets by a score of 59-25.
“I’ve been happy with our performances throughout most of the season,” said Screven coach Roy Cooper. “I think we’re a very good team, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We need to play well in every game here late in the season.”
In all, 10 different Gamecocks scored — including three with at least 10 points — while SEB was limited to just six field goals over the first three quarters of playing time.
Screven missed three of its first four free throw attempts as SEB stayed within 4-3 in the opening two minutes, but suffocating Gamecock defense kept the Jackets at bay during a subsequent 13-0 run. When the first quarter finally ended, Screven was already out to a comfortable 19-7 advantage.
Star forward Bria Lonon (17 points) led the charge for Screven’s talented frontcourt, which racked up 13 blocks and bullied their way into the offensive paint for easy points.
“We’ve got a solid group,” said Cooper. “Our defense was pretty good tonight. I keep stressing our girls to keep up the pressure, because that’s the same thing we’ll have to deal with.”
The Gamecock offense wasn’t on top of its game Friday, but didn’t need to be thanks to Screven’s defensive effort.
The second quarter saw the Gamecocks continue to expand their lead as they help SEB to only a pair of free throws by Breanna Gates and Gloria Lingle. A layup by Cas Austin with just five seconds to play in the quarter gave the Gamecocks a 30-9 lead at halftime.
Halftime offered no reprieve for the Jackets as Screven notched the first 15 points of the third quarter. The Gamecocks were able to put the mercy clock in motion for the final quarter after extending their dominating advantage to 50-14 after three quarters of play.
With reserves for both teams playing out the game’s final minutes, the Jackets were finally able to put some offense together.
Jasmine led SEB with 10 points, but all came in the second half with the game already out of the Jackets’.
Screven County 55, Southeast Bulloch 54
The Southeast Bulloch boys nearly climbed out of a huge hole, but came up a bit short as they fell to Screven County by a score of 55-54 Friday night.
The Gamecocks raced out of the gate, scoring the first 17 points of the game, but SEB rallied to keep things interesting, and it wasn’t until Josh Suchosky’s 3-point attempt clanged off the rim and into Screven’s possession with 6.5 seconds remaining that a Gamecock win was assured.
After shaking off the shellshock of Screven’s opening run, the Jackets put together a 24-7 spurt, culminated by David Johnson’s game-tying jumper with 2:02 to go in the first half.
Screven took a 31-26 advantage into the locker room and tried to pull away again with early third quarter points, but SEB refused to bow out.
The Jackets pulled within one point midway through the third quarter and again in the fourth as a Johnson jumper made it 46-45 with 4:28 to go, but could never draw even.
Trailing 54-51 in the closing seconds, Suchosky missed just to the right with his 3-point attempt. Screven’s Nigil Campfield (16 points) grabbed the rebound and sank one of two free throws after being fouled to provide the winning margin after another Suchosky 3 fell at the final buzzer.
Deonte Badger led the Gamecocks with 17 points while SEB’s Blake Lundy recorded a season-high 20 points.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.