The Statesboro Lady Blue Devils crushed Long County 65-37 in their season opener Monday night at the Ladies Night Out Tournament.
The tournament is hosted at Statesboro High School and the home team didn’t disappoint in their 2016-17 debut.
“This has me excited for what else we can do this year,” said freshman guard Lacy Robins. “We were rusty in the first quarter and still beat them as bad as we did.”
Statesboro started to separate themselves from Long after a back and forth game near the end of the second quarter. Up 21-20 with just under three minutes left in the half, Keisonna Reynolds picked Anazhia Kincard’s pocket and hit Amiya Carter down the lane for an easy bucket to increase Statesboro’s lead to three.
Following another turnover by Long, Statesboro really started puffing out their prowess on the offensive glass. A missed shot by Dayonna Henry was cleaned up by Victoria Harris, then her shot was reeled in Reynolds — who finished the job herself to put the Lady Devils up 25-20.
After trading a series of free throws off fouls and a technical call on Long Count coach Brian Todd, Statesboro went back to work on the offensive glass. After a missed shot at the rim by Reynolds, 20 came in behind her to catch the rebound and attempt the put back. But that shot would miss off the glass, allowing Lacy Robins to swoop in and finish the job for another bucket.
“Once we started to push on the press things started to turn in our favor,” Seier said. “That particular stretch our offensive was playing more efficiently too.”
Long would get caught in the Statesboro trap defense trying to advance the ball up court, which resulted in a steal and another two points for 34. As the buzzer rang, Statesboro would finish the half on a 10-1 run in less than three minutes of play.
Statesboro had picked 25 offensive rebounds in the first half alone, compared to Long’s eight. The Lady Blue Devils size would continue to weigh on Long throughout the game, and the third quarter would show that in full effect once the full court press started to set in too.
“If we could have put a few more of those offensive rebounds in we might have won by more,” Seier said. “We’ll have to convert more of those tomorrow night against a better team.”
Statesboro’s first bucket of the third quarter came off of an offensive rebound following two missed free throws, Harris would put the missed shot back in. Long’s next three possessions would end in turnovers via the continued press by Statesboro, then Robins would convert one of two free throws and Reynolds would extend the lead further with another bucket.
Long wouldn’t score an actual basket (hit one of two free throws at the 5:56 mark) until almost halfway through the third quarter. A layup by Patra London though a nice feed from Makayla
Wrighton would end the drought by Long, but before that the Blue Tide were 0-3 with five turnovers in their first eight possessions.
Back-to-back buckets by Yasmine Reynolds on Statesboro’s next two possessions put them up 44-26, then more back-to-back buckets from Harris followed by a three-pointer by Carter would nearly double Statesboro’s halftime lead to 51-33 at the end of the quarter.
From the 2:53 mark to the end of the third quarter, Statesboro had outscored Long Count 30-13.
Statesboro would end the game on a 14-4 run, with Long never able to adjust to the press or the size for Statesboro. By the end of the game, it seemed hard to imagine Statesboro was tied with Long 13-13 at the end of the first quarter and only led for two minutes of the first quarter.
Robins showed out as the star in her Statesboro debut, with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Following close behind her was Reynolds with 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting with five rebounds and four steals. Harris and Dayonna Henry each had 11 rebounds, with Harris scoring 10 points as well.
“(Lacy) is a big boost, but her and her sister (Amber) are both very good players,” Seier said. “They can shoot the basketball and they have high IQ’s.”
Statesboro shattered the offensive glass, outdoing Long County 41-13 in the department. Statesboro also won the paint, scoring 42 of their points around the basket. The Lady Blue Devils won the turnover battle too, forcing 26 turnovers and scoring 26 points off those turnovers.
“We still weren’t very polished in the win,” Seier said. “We were in the wrong spots a lot, but we were just bigger, faster and stronger.”
The Blue Devils will move on to the championship round of the Ladies Night Out Tournament and take on Calvary Day tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at Statesboro High School.