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SEB splits with Liberty County
SEB Basketball
Southeast Bulloch's Ryon Reed, right, drives past Liberty's Brandon Mobley for a third quarter score on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets split a region doubleheader vs. Liberty County Wednesday night in Brooklet. The Jackets knocked off the Panthers in the boy’s game by a score of 70-47, while the Lady Jackets fell by a score of 53-24.

The Southeast Bulloch boys were playing a team in a very similar position as the Panthers were playing their first game after being in COVID quarantine the past two weeks and looked pretty rusty Wednesday night. The Jackets have now played three games in the last five days and after a sluggish start pulled away late behind solid defense, and plenty of easy transition baskets.

“It’s just about playing as a team,” said Coach Matt Kuykendall. “We moved the ball similar to the way we did Monday when we beat Savannah High. We were disciplined on defense and took away their outside shooting. They followed the plan, and we had a solid game.”

Both teams struggled from the field in the first quarter which saw the Jackets take an 11-10 lead. The highlight of the first half was an alley-oop pass from Khristian Clark to Tyler Griffin which brought the home crowd to their feet.

The Jackets opened the second quarter on an 8-2 run to put a little space between them and the Panthers and would grab a 29-24 halftime lead.

The third quarter would be when the Jackets would make their move and pull away for good. A 20-4 run in the third extended the Yellow Jacket led to 56-33, and they would never look back.

“We were trying to set a season high for assists, and I liked the way we worked it around,” said Kuykendall. We got up and down the floor well and played defense solid for four quarters.”

Kuykendall feels after two weeks of having to quarantine due to COVID protocol, the Jackets are finally starting to get back to where they were before the break. With only region games remaining and a 3-1 region mark he knows the importance of the next few weeks.

“We have to treat every game like it’s the most important one since we are only playing region games the rest of the way,” said Kuykendall. “Thankfully they are starting to buy into the team concept. We are always going to be a more skilled team than the one we will be playing. The question is can we play with that effort, and we did tonight.”

The Jackets improve to 6-4 overall and 3-1 in region play. Southeast Bulloch was led by Ryon Reed with 18 points. Khristian Clark added 12 and A.J. Williams had 11 points. Brandon Mobley had 21 points for Liberty County

The Southeast Bulloch girls and Liberty County girls were both playing their first game in over two weeks, and it showed. In a game full of turnovers, the Panthers were able to make convert layups off of Jacket turnovers and would win 53-24.

Liberty led 8-2 at the end of the first quarter, and it was the second quarter before the Jackets hit their first field goal. The Jackets showed some signs of life in the second quarter but would trail 21-10 at the half. The Panthers opened the third quarter on a 12-0 run to extend their lead to 33-10 and would cruise from there.

“You could tell we haven’t played a game in the last two weeks,” said Jacket Coach Meredith Belcher. “Our shots weren’t falling, and we had a lot of turnovers tonight. I feel like we never quit playing hard, but we definitely need to clean things up.”

Belcher is confident the Lady Jackets will continue to improve, and hopes the team is starting to come together by the time the region tournament comes next month.

“The good thing about this team is they are young, but they are very coachable,” said Belcher. “They are playing hard, we just need them to try and follow the game plan a little better. I think we can continue to improve and hopefully we will be ready by region tournament time.”

The Jackets fall to 3-9 overall and 0-3 in region play. Ainsleigh Littles led the Jackets with eight points while Sanaya Frazier led the Panthers with 10 points. Up next Southeast Bulloch will host Beach Friday with the girls starting at 6 p.m.