The Statesboro boys brought a three-game losing streak to a screeching halt, notching a 66-48 victory Saturday night at the Devil’s Den over the Swainsboro Tigers team that started the Blue Devils’ slide two weeks ago.
O’Aaron Ware led Statesboro (5-3) with 17 points, Zaquavian Smith added 14 more, and a total of five Blue Devils scored at least seven points.
“It’s definitely good to get a win after the last few games,” SHS coach Lee Hill said. “I thought we played a complete game against a good team that beat us the first time around. It wasn’t just a one-man or two-man show for us tonight. Everyone played well.”
The Tigers (4-3) looked like they might give Statesboro another loss as they led 20-16 midway through the second quarter.
Finally sparking the Devils, Jerquale Lee hit a deep 3, Smith converted on a fastbreak layup, and Lee connected on another bomb from behind the arc to drive Statesboro out in front.
Normally patrolling the perimeter, Smith made an impact with two tough offensive rebounds late in the quarter and a jumper from Elijah Cone stretched the SHS advantage to 31-23 at halftime.
“We did a lot of the little things right,” Hill said. “I saw a lot of hustle from us and we executed well for most of the game.”
David Doyle’s 12 points kept the Tigers in contention, but Swainsboro was never able to make the Devils sweat over the final two periods.
An off-balance 3 by Smith stretched the Devils’ lead even farther late in the third and back-to-back layups by Ware off of Swainsboro turnovers midway through the fourth quarter put the game safely in hand for Statesboro.
The Blue Devils face more stout competition as they take on Beach next week before travelling for their perennial appearance in the U-Save-It Classic in Albany.
“We like playing teams that are in the playoffs every year,” Hill said. “We never have a chance to let up, but that’s the mentality we have to have if we want to succeed.”
SHS girls drop OT heartbreaker
The Statesboro Lady Blue Devils led their game against Swainsboro with under 30 seconds to play in regulation, but the Lady Tigers forced overtime with a late 3 and Alexis Tillman’s free throw with 0.3 seconds remaining in overtime clinched a 53-52 victory for Swainsboro.
“I don’t think we played badly,” SHS coach Jeff Seier said. “We just didn’t get the shots to fall when we needed them to. Swainsboro hit a big one to get it to overtime and hit a few more in overtime.”
Statesboro (4-3) held a small lead for much of the game, but was never able to pull too far out in front.
Deneisha Gardner hit a 3 and Tillman (20 points) hit a short jumper to give the Lady Tigers (4-2) a 36-34 lead heading into the fourth quarter before Statesboro pulled back in front.
Tanice Johnson scored six of her team-high 17 points and Alexis Hunter (8 points) hit an inside jumper to make it a 47-44 SHS lead with under a minute to play.
The Devils played solid defense, but Shantris Brihm hit a 3 from the left wing and Statesboro couldn’t get another shot off before the end of regulation.
In overtime, the teams battled back and forth, with Swainsboro taking a lead on De’Andrea Jones’ layup with 41 seconds to play.
Trying to pull even once again, Johnson sank one of two free throws to make it 52-52 with 7.2 seconds remaining.
The Tigers raced down the court and Tillman looked to have her shot cleanly blocked by Hunter, but a whistle was blown and Tillman was awarded two shots. Tillman sank her first attempt, then intentionally missed the second as time ran out.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.