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Statesboro downs Osborne
122810 SHS HOOPS 01 web

    Poor free throw shooting threatened to doom Statesboro for a second consecutive night, but some clutch performances from the charity stripe in the final minutes paved the way for a 58-52 win over Osborne Tuesday at the Gentlemen’s Classic.
    Having seen the Blue Devils’ struggles from the line in Monday’s loss to Riverdale, the Cardinals were liberal with their fouls early on. The strategy seemed to pay of as Statesboro went just 11-for-24 at the stripe in the first half, but with a late lead, the Devils came up big draining 10 of their final 12 attempts to seal the win.
    “I was proud to see our guys step up in a big spot,” said SHS coach Lee Hill. “We knew that Osborne was going to foul, especially Reggie (Owens). We told them at half time to just think positive thoughts at the line and they turned it around."
    While the Devils were struggling from the free throw line early on, Osborne was having trouble from almost everywhere else.
    The Cardinals jumped out to an early 8-5 lead, but the lid shut over their basket as Statesboro held them without a field goal for over six minutes of game time.
    Osborne had the height advantage and dominated on most contested balls, but the Devils were able to regroup their defense and deny easy looks until they could secure the ball.
    “We told everyone not to worry about rebounding,” said Hill. “We just wanted them to pick a man and stay with him. The rebounds will come, but you have to keep playing good defense if you don’t get them.”
    Yakeem Coleman spurred Statesboro on with big shots all night.
    The sophomore tallied 14 points on the night and — once Osborne got going late in the second quarter — drilled a pair of long 3-pointers to keep the Devils within 24-23 at halftime.
    The Cardinals took the early lead again in the third quarter. Osborne built a 29-23 advantage, but Jaqawn Raymond (16 points) and Owens (13 points) each notched easy buckets and Coleman scored on a put back to tie it up.
    Another 3 by Coleman gave Statesboro a 32-29 lead and the Devils never trailed again.
    “I was very pleased with Yakeem,” said Hill. “We need more guys to step up in games against talented teams and Yakeem was able to do it tonight.”
    Osborne clawed within 48-47 with just under two minutes to play, but Statesboro started putting on a clinic from the free throw line and the Cardinals never caught up.
    Statesboro concludes its tournament tonight as the Devils take on Groves at 7:30 p.m. In the early games, Bradwell matches up against Riverdale at 4:30 p.m. and Effingham County and Liberty County square off at 6 p.m.

Liberty County 53, Bradwell Institute 44
    Liberty County and Bradwell Institute locked up in a tight match, but Liberty was able to pull away in the second half to notch a 53-44 victory Tuesday evening.
    Michael Farrior led the way for the Panthers, scoring 9 of his team-high 15 points in the second half while Shakur Cook dropped in 14 more.
    The Tigers were game for much of the night, but couldn’t quite keep pace.
    The teams were tied at 13-13 after the first quarter and Liberty held just a 27-23 advantage at halftime, but Farrior caught fire and Bradwell never managed to get the game back to even.

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.