The Gentlemen’s Classic hosted by Statesboro High didn’t waste any time in bringing the drama as Osborne defeated Statesboro in a high-flying 92-89 decision in the first of three nights of action Thursday at the Devil’s Den.
The Cardinals led from the opening tip and stretched their lead to as many as 13 points in the first half. Statesboro gained its first lead on a jumper by Alex Simmons (seven points) late in the third quarter and rallied for a 71-63 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but Osborne (9-2) closed the game on a 29-18 run to claim the win.
The Blue Devils (8-4) got within three on multiple occasions in the final minutes and Aikeem Oglesby’s 3 with 13.3 seconds to play closed Statesboro within 90-89. But Osborne’s Dahaire Haney connected on a pair of free throws and Zaquavian Smith’s final attempt for Statesboro rattled off the rim just before time expired.
“We knew we were in for a tough fight,” SHS coach Lee Hill said. “Osborne is a 6A school and has a bunch of really good athletes. I thought we played well, but we just made some bad plays in the fourth quarter and it cost us.”
Kyire Hogan led the Cardinals with 34 points. Haney added 28 points to the cause and managed to keep contributing despite playing the entire fourth quarter with four fouls.
Smith sat out the first quarter for Statesboro due to disciplinary reasons, but still managed to lead the Devils with 21 points. O’Aaron Ware and Alex Simmons both sat out the entire first half, leaving many of the Devils’ normal reserves in charge of hanging with a tough Osborne squad.
“I thought we did pretty well considering that we had some of our guys on the bench,” Hill said. “We showed a lot of fight throughout the whole game and I think we got a good taste of the level we have to be ready to play at.”
Osborne held a small lead throughout the first quarter and seized momentum when Jaquinton Thompson slammed home an alley-oop off an inbound pass just before the first quarter buzzer.
Upon entering the game, Smith made an immediate impact for the Devils with a pair of 3-pointers. But for every big SHS bucket, it seemed that Hogan had the answer. Osborne’s junior guard canned eight 3s and had several driving layups to keep the Cardinal offense flowing.
Cameron Harvey scored his only points of the night for Statesboro as he tipped in a put-back to beat the halftime buzzer and bring the Devils within 44-40 at the break.
Statesboro remained close in the third quarter before taking the lead and a Smith 3, an inside jumper from Micheal Solamon, and two more free throws from Smith built Statesboro’s biggest lead of the night.
Osborne immediately responded and 3s by Hogan on consecutive possessions gave the Cardinals the lead for good midway through the final period.
Things don’t get any easier for Statesboro as it takes on Brunswick (9-1) tonight at 8 p.m. Battery Creek (Beaufort, S.C.) plays Liberty County at 5 p.m. in tomorrow’s first game, with Osborne and Bradwell Institute following.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.