With the Statesboro girls expected to dominated their region once again this season, a lot of emphasis is being placed on the Lady Devils’ performances against non-region competition.
Last week, SHS picked up a win at Northside. The Devils recorded another win over the Lady Eagles — this time by a 74-55 count — Friday night, but it didn’t come easy. Northside’s latest lead came at 35-33 in the opening minute of the half, but the Devils still had to work hard for the win.
“We had a big challenge tonight,” said SHS coach Jeff Seier. “I think that Northside hustled a little harder than we did early on and made some things happen. At the end, I was very happy to see our girls keep fighting and take over when they needed to.”
Having lit up the stat sheet in every game so far this season, Statesboro’s Alisia Jenkins starred once again. The senior forward played her most minutes of any game this season and scored a season-high 36 points to lead her team.
Jenkins was clutch when her team needed her most, scoring 15 points in the final 10 minutes to help the Devils secure the win.
“Alisia played like a Division-I player tonight,” said Seier. “There wasn’t necessarily a plan to get her the ball more often, but every time the ball found her, she made it count.”
After dropping a home decision to the Devils last week, Northside began the game intent on sending a message.
The Eagles came out of the opening tip-off hot and challenged the Devils up and down the court early in the game.
Jasmine Wilson — who led her team with 23 points —paced the Eagles throughout the night.
Statesboro utilized an 8-2 run to lead 17-8 after the first quarter, but Wilson hit a 3 and a pair of transition layups to close the gap.
The Eagle defense was the first that Statesboro has faced this season to play at the same level of intensity. Shambria Smith (nine points) aided Wilson on both ends of the floor and helped to pull the Eagles within 33-30 at halftime.
Wilson and Smith combined for the first five points to the second half to give Northside a lead, but Statesboro — anchored by Jenkins — launched an 11-0 run that put it in the lead for good.
As the final quarter began, Statesboro’s superior depth finally took its toll.
Smith hit an early jumper and knocked down a 3 to keep the Eagles within striking distance early, but the Devil defense locked down, allowing just two more field goals down the stretch.
Northside’s defense was unable to respond, and Jenkins continued to pour in points as Statesboro extended its lead early in the fourth quarter and put things out of reach with a few minutes left to play.
“I think that we wore them down a little bit,” said Seier. “We’ve got a really long bench and got good minutes from everyone. That’s the sort of thing that makes us tough to beat.”
Eagles top Devils again
After taking down Statesboro at home last week, Northside, Warner Robins proved that it can be just as good on the road.
C.J. Jackson scored 15 points and Northside was consistently a step or two ahead of Statesboro as the Eagles notched their second win over the Blue Devils in six days, battling to a 62-44 victory.
For much of the first half, Statesboro and Northside were locked in a defensive struggle. Both teams utilized suffocating full court pressure to force turnovers, but neither side was able to notch the necessary fast break points to open up a wide margin.
Jaylon Foster put the Eagles ahead midway through the first quarter with a jumper and both teams limped through the first eight minutes with Northside holding a slim 9-8 advantage.
Northside seized the upper hand in the second quarter as its offense found its rhythm. Jackson and Jarius Smith each hit 3-pointers during an 8-0 run that pushed the Eagle lead to 23-12.
Refusing to quit, Statesboro stormed back as a Yakeem Coleman 3 and a pair of runners by Zaquavian Smith helped to pull SHS within 25-22 at halftime.
The Eagles looked to put it away early in the third quarter.
Northside notched the first six points of the second half and its full-court press started to wear on Statesboro, causing multiple turnovers.
The Eagle lead stretched to 39-26, but Daniel Houston sank a layup for the Devils and Willie Johnson and Coleman connected on back-to-back-to-back 3’s to pull within 41-37 after three quarters.
Statesboro gave it a run, but it wasn’t quite enough. The Northside pressure resumed in the fourth quarter as the Eagles put the game out of reach. Northside scored six points off of four Statesboro turnovers in the first two minutes of the final period and Jackson’s 3 with 4:30 to play pushed the advantage to 52-37, erasing any SHS hopes of another comeback.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.