BROOKLET — The year may be new, but Southeast Bulloch’s region schedule is already nearing the halfway mark.
The Yellow Jackets are just fine with that as a hard-fought 59-54 victory over Brantley County Saturday night has them riding high as the games get more important.
Brantley’s Colt Yawn misfired on two attempts to tie the game in the final 30 seconds as the Yellow Jackets pulled out their second close win in as many nights.
“As long as these games keep coming out on our side we’ll be happy,” SEB coach John Page said. “(Brantley) really came to play. They’re a well-coached team. They executed well and gave us some problems, but we found a way to hang on.”
Southeast Bulloch (7-4, 5-1 Region 1-AAA) led 46-36 following a Sheldon Hendrix (14 points) 3 early in the fourth quarter, but the Herons (7-6, 3-4) stormed back.
Tre Green hit a pair of jumpers and Derrick Bradshaw (16 points) tipped in a missed shot to keep Brantley in business. The Jackets led by a single point and turned the ball over with 1:40 to play, but Brantley went 0-for-3 during a possession that burned over 30 seconds.
Lamont Ballard sank a free throw to make it a 54-52 SEB lead with 33 seconds to play. Following a miss by Yawn, Preston Smith (20 points) hit a pair of free throws.
Yawn hit a pair of free throws for the Herons on the other end and Brantley forced a turnover on the ensuing inbound pass, but Yawn saw an 18-footer rattle out and the Jackets iced the game from the line.
The Jackets went cold late in the first quarter as foul trouble forced their frontcourt starters to the bench.
Smith kept SEB in the game, sinking five consecutive free throws in the second quarter before the Jackets made their first field goal of the period with just 1:28 to play before halftime.
“We definitely had to change some things due to foul trouble,” Page said. “That’s the kind of adversity we’ll have to overcome as we move ahead.”
Southeast Bulloch is certainly a very different squad than the team from two seasons ago that went winless. So far, SEB is also looking like a team that can go a few steps farther than last year’s squad.
“Starting off 5-1 in the region is definitely great for us,” Page said. “It’s big to get a good start. But this is a very tough region and there’s still a long way to go.”
Lady Jackets 66, Lady Herons 62
Southeast Bulloch’s girls tipped off Saturday’s impressive showings as they downed Brantley County by a score of 66-62.
Back from her absence during the Portal Holiday Classic, Jasmine Roberts didn’t miss a beat as she lead the Lady Yellow Jackets with 24 points. Philicia Batton notched 22 points and added to her collection of double-doubles on the season.
SEB led by as much as 18 midway through the final quarter. Summer Lee connected on a pair of 3-pointers to draw the Lady Herons (4-9, 2-5 Region 1-AAA) closer and Loren Mertz converted a steal into a layup with 4.8 seconds to play, but the win was never in doubt for the Jackets.
“We played another good game tonight,” SEB coach Johnnie Miiller said of his team — which improved to 7-3 overall and 4-1 in region play. “Our guards got in some foul trouble and we gave away some points at the end. That’s just a mental thing we have to keep working on to put teams away when we get the chance.”
Both the SEB boys and girls will face a tough test in their next matchup. Both teams will take a couple of days off before welcoming in Savannah High Tuesday night.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.