If Statesboro’s annual tournament really is ‘Ladies Night Out,’ it’s no secret as to what team has V.I.P. status at the party.
In what has become a trend at the pre-Thanksgiving tournament, Statesboro once again rolled through the competition, topping Richmond Hill 70-40 on Tuesday night to finish as the only undefeated team at the two-day event.
“I was very pleased with our girls’ effort tonight,” SHS coach Jeff Seier said. “Our goal is to execute well and improve with each game. We played a good game tonight and were able to get another win.”
The Lady Wildcats were up to the task throughout much of the first half. A pair of quick 3’s by Sydney Miller and Aliyah Johnson staked Richmond Hill to an early lead and the Wildcats found enough offense to keep things tight through much of the first half, but the Lady Blue Devils (4-0) outscored their region rivals by 19 points in the second half to run away with the win.
Alisia Jenkins had another big night for the Devils. The senior forward had 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Jenkins has teamed up with fellow forward Sierra Kirkland, who had seven points and eight rebounds, for the last four years in Statesboro's backcourt. The two have become a dominating duo, but Richmond Hill was able to fight back in the paint to keep things tight early in the game.
With the Wildcats shooting well from outside in the first half, Keeara Jackson held her own down low. Jackson had 10 points and seven rebounds, and her pair of second-chance putbacks gave Richmond Hill a lead at the 5:09 mark of the second quarter before Statesboro pulled away.
“They were just outhustling us early in the game,” Seier said. “I’m glad that we were able to respond to the challenge. Usually, we don’t have people play that aggressively until we face the Atlanta schools. (Jackson) and the rest of Richmond Hill did a great job of that.”
Showing their experience and toughness, the Devils made their move. Shaking off early struggles, Statesboro ripped off a 15-5 run to end the first half and take a 35-24 lead into halftime.
When play resumed, so did the Devils’ dominance. Jenkins scored six of Statesboro’s first eight points out of the break and better defense on Richmond Hill inside allowed the Devils to extend their lead to 52-36 heading into the final quarter of play.
With the Devils’ fast pace wearing down the Wildcats, the final eight minutes were little more than a formality as Statesboro cruised to the win and the tournament title.
Claxton 53, Screven County 39
A night after bowing out to Statesboro, Claxton bounced back with a vengeance.
The Lady Tigers beat Screven County, 53-39, notching a win over an opponent in a higher classification and giving them a big boost of confidence.
“I thought that we played a very good game tonight,” CHS coach Laura Aziz said. “Last night, we went up against a very good team in Statesboro. They forced us into a lot of mistakes, but I was glad to see us turn around and fix a lot of that against Screven.”
Claxton took a 20-12 edge over the Lady Gamecocks and never looked back.
Claxton senior Polly Murray scored a game-high 21 points, and Deetra Williams add 10 points for the Lady Tigers.
“We had a lot of girls play really well tonight,” Aziz said. “Going into the holiday, it’s always nice to have a win and some momentum."
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.