BROOKLET - Unlike their last meeting, Statesboro was able to shake off a determined Southeast Bulloch squad, using a 24-2 second half run to pull away and defeating the Yellow Jackets 71-40 Friday night.
On Jan. 2, Southeast Bulloch hung tough early, but Statesboro won 63-50. This time around the Yellow Jackets scrapped for the first half, but were done in by Statesboro’s defensive pressure in the third quarter as they were outscored 23-4.
“Give Southeast Bulloch credit. They played hard tonight,” said Statesboro coach Lee Hill. “I thought we really put things together and played one of our better quarters there in the third.”
The game started off with Statesboro jumping out to an 8-0 lead, but the Yellow Jackets fought back with a Bryce Stephens 3-pointer, cutting the lead to 10-7.
Zarion Griffin managed to knock down a 3 just before the buzzer and Statesboro held a 15-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second, a deep 3 by Ryan Swanson got the Jackets to within 22-13, but was answered with a Jaylen Hicks three-point play. Stephens added another 3 at the 4:06 mark in the second to cut the lead to 25-19 before Statesboro extended its advantage to 30-21 at the half.
Statesboro only hit four 3-pointers the entire game, but found success in the third quarter with defensive pressure and drives to the basket. Taking control on both ends of the floor resulted in a 53-25 Blue Devil lead at the end of the third.
“The first time we played them we took way too many 3-pointers,” Hill said. “This time we told them to take it strong to the basket, and it worked.”
The Blue Devils were an impressive 15-of-19 from the free throw line in the game, and emptied their bench with just over four minutes to go in cruising to a 31-point victory.
“As long as we hung in there and played hard, I can live with that,” said Southeast Bulloch coach John Page. “Statesboro is a high quality team, and I feel our kids competed and that’s what you want out of them.”
Statesboro was led in scoring by Daniel Cooper with 25 points. Tra Burns had 16 and Griffin chipped in with 11.
Southeast Bulloch was led by Stephens with 11, Amari Hill added nine.
Lady Devils 70, Lady Jackets 36
The Statesboro Blue Devils (14-8, 4-1) defeated Southeast Bulloch (5-12, 2-9) going away in their first meeting. Things were a little more competitive this time around, but it was still a lopsided victory for the Blue Devils who won 70-36.
“We were glad we were able to play well enough to get some of our young kids in the game.” said Statesboro coach Jeff Seier. “We ran our high-low offense really well today, evident in our 70 points.”
SEB hung tough in the first quarter behind six points from Krystyn Turner and four from Aaliyah Sandifer, but Statesboro answered with eight points from Destiny Hartwell, and seven by Jamiah Jones and took a 19-10 lead.
In the second quarter Lacy Robins began to take over as she had 13 of her game high 25 points in the quarter including a trio of three pointers and Statesboro opened up a 41-19 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils continued to pour it on in the third outscoring Southeast Bulloch 13-6.
In the fourth, Statesboro had a few youngsters get some playing time. Freshman Lacrecia Shipman had the bench cheering as she hit a long three and a 15-footer as Statesboro ended up winning by 34 points.
Hartwell had had 14 points, while Bailee Roberts added 11 for Statesboro. Turner led the Jackets with 18 points while Sandifer added 12.
“We played really well in the opening moments of the game,” said Southeast Bulloch coach Kristen Barnhill. “We played hard and hustled the whole game, but as we wrap up region play we really need to get better.”
Up next for Statesboro is the regular season’s home stretch. The Devils host Ware County Tuesday. Southeast Bulloch hosts Windsor Forest tonight, with the girls tipping off at 6 p.m.