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Rutland knocks off Blue Devils at Gentlemen's Classic

Gentlemen's Classic
Friday's Scores
    Liberty County 92, Westside-Augusta 46
    Osborne 86, Jenkins County 62
    Rutland 89, Statesboro 74
Saturday's Games
5 p.m.
    Jenkins County vs. Liberty County
6:30 p.m.
    Westside-Augusta vs. Rutland
8 p.m.
    Statesboro vs. Osborne

Portal Holiday Classic
Friday's Scores
    Jenkins County 34, Jefferson County 29,  (Girls)
    Jefferson County 70, Appling County 63 (Boys)
    Vidalia 66, Southeast Bulloch  61 (Boys)
    Long County 56, Portal 19 (Girls)
    Portal 85, Long County 72 (Boys)

Saturday's Games
1 p.m. (Girls)
    Jenkins County vs. Long County
2:30 p.m. (Boys)
    Long County vs. Appling County
4 p.m. (Boys)
    Vidalia vs. Jefferson County   
6 p.m. (Girls)
    Jefferson County vs. Bryan County   
7:30 p.m. (Boys)
    Bryan County vs. Portal

    Two seasons ago, Statesboro shattered the dreams of Rutland by barging into the Hurricanes’ home gym and scoring in the final seconds to claim a state quarterfinal win.
    Friday night, Rutland had revenge on its mind.
    The Hurricanes (10-1) returned the favor to the Blue Devils (7-6) with a heavy hand, marching away with an 89-74 victory to conclude the first night of action at the Gentlemen’s Classic.
    “Those guys aren’t 10-1 for no reason,” SHS coach Lee Hill said. “They’re an experienced group and I’m sure they wanted to beat us.”
    From the opening tip, Rutland’s Tylik Evans was a force that the Blue Devils had no answer for.
    Evans’ 38 points were the most by any Statesboro opponent since the 2013 Region 3-AAAA championship game and the most by an opponent in a winning effort at the Devil’s Den since Effingham County’s Jakeenan Gant matched that mark early in the 2012-13 campaign.
    “You know, when a guy like (Evans) gets going, there’s not a lot you can do,” Hill said. “We were trying to defend, but when he keeps backing up and is hitting from almost half-court, you just know that it’s going to be a good night for him.”
    Evans canned four 3’s in the first quarter alone. When Statesboro stepped out to defend, he attacked the basket and scored inside. When the Devils closed ranks in the lane, Evans popped off five more from long range in the second half.
    By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the damage was done. The Hurricanes led 74-45 and — while Statesboro cut into its deficit to make the final margin more respectable — Evans didn’t have to contribute another point to ensure a Rutland win.
    Evans wasn’t alone in the offensive onslaught as teammates Dallas Smith (18 points) and Jeremy Braswell (13) also notched double-digits for the Hurricanes.
    Despite the loss, Statesboro also sported a balanced attack.
    Jaylan Patrick led the Devils with 18 points while Myles White scored 15, Jarrius Mikell netted 14 and Michael Solamon pitched in 11.
    It was the first time this season that the Devils had four double-digit scorers in one game, but even that couldn’t match the firepower of Evans and the rest of the Hurricanes’ onslaught.
    That was the theme of the night as the Devils kept pace over the first eight minutes of action, only to be held to nine points in the second quarter as Rutland built a 12-point lead at halftime.
    Statesboro battled in the third quarter and found cracks in the Hurricanes’ defense, but Evans’ three 3-pointers on Rutland’s final three possessions of the period put the writing on the wall for the Devils.
    “We went up against an experienced team that knew how to respond when we played well,” Hill said. “That’s why I scheduled them. They handled it when we tried to get back in the game.
“That’s something that we need to learn from. That’s something that we need to learn how to do to other good teams.”
    Statesboro won’t get any breaks. Not only will the Devils lace them up for another 8 p.m. tipoff tonight, but they’ll do so against a strong Class AAAAAA Osborne squad that trounced Jenkins County in its opening game of the Gentlemen’s Classic.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.