The Statesboro Blue Devils swept a pair of games in the opening round of the region tournament, and will both be playing for titles Friday night. The Statesboro girls were in control throughout as they breezed to a 77-33 victory over New Hampstead, while the guys knocked off Ware County -
The girls didn’t waste any time pulling away from the Phoenix as they jumped out to a 19-3 first quarter lead. The Blue Devils started out hot from long range, as they hit four three pointers in the first quarter, and got a couple easy baskets off pressure defense.
“I really wish we could have saved some of that shooting from the first half for tomorrow night’s game,” said Statesboro coach Jeff Seier. “We set the tone early, and I liked our effort tonight.”
In the second the Blue Devils cooled off a bit as they stopped pressing, and ended up sett;ing for three pointers. The long range shots stopped falling, as Statesboro was only 1-8 from three point range in the second. Jamaiah Jones scored 16 of her game high 22 points in the first half, and the defense remained solid as Statesboro took a 30-4 lead at the half.
“J.J.(Jones) really shot the ball well tonight,” Seier said. “I think we got a little sloppy on offense, and started just jacking up shots whenever we were open, but our defense was solid throughout.
The lead continued in the third quarter as the Blue Devils turned the pressure back up on defense and extended the lead to 48-9. The fourth quarter was shortened to six minutes due to the lopsided score, and Statesboro went on to win 59-15.
The win sets up a regional championship battle with Wayne County. The Blue Devils and Yellow Jackets split during the regular season with Statesboro winning 42-40 earlier this year in Statesboro, while the Jackets took a 40-33 victory in Jesup.
“We know each other pretty well,” Seier said. “I expect we will both throw in a new wrinkle or two, but it will play out pretty much like we have seen twice this year.
In the game at Statesboro the Yellow Jackets chose to try and shut down Lacy Robins, and make other people beat them. Robins finished with three points, but the Blue Devils prevailed by two. In Jesup Robins scored 24 points, but Terren Ward had 23, and Wayne won by 13.
“I expect Terren and Lacy will both probably cancel each other out again,” Seier said. “I think it will come down to how the supporting casts do. Bailee and J.J. didn’t play too well in Jesup. Bailee was in foul trouble, hopefully that won’t happen Friday.
Jones had 22 points to lead Statesboro, Robins added 10 points. Aldizha Hutchinson had nine points for New Hampstead.
There were some questions as to whether or not the Statesboro boys would come out focused taking on a 6-19 Ware County Gator team they had handled easily in their two previous meetings. Those questions were answered with a look at the halftime score as Statesboro took a 52-18 lead, and cruised to a 77-33 victory.
“We set the tone from the beginning playing tough defense, and our shots were falling,” said Statesboro coach Lee Hill. “I thought Kobe Altman and Zarion Griffin really stepped things up for us.”
Alman was on first in the first quarter as he scored 14 points, including four three pointers. Griffin took over in the second quarter converting on a couple three;s and finishing in transition. Griffin had 17 points in the first half, while Griffin added 16.
Statesboro extended the lead to 40 at the end of the third as they led 68-28. The fourth quarter was shortened to only six minutes as the Blue Devil led by more than 30 points.
“We could have come out and just run through the motions, but we played hard,” Hill said. “It’s important that we keep this focus Friday night.”
Up next it’s a rematch of last year’s region championship as Statesboro takes on Wayne County. The Blue Devils lost to the Yellow Jackets on a last second three pointer, and ended up as the second seed in the state tournament. Coach Hill knows the importance of winning Friday and being the one seed in the state.
“We had to go on the road last year in the second round, and that’s a tough position to be in,” Hill said. “I know we beat them twice, and it’s tough to beat a good team three times. I feel like we will be ready for them.”
Griffin and Alman each scored 20 points to lead the way for the Blue Devils, who have now extedned their win streak to 20 games.
In other games from the region tournament the Wayne County girls knocked off South Effingham 56-27, behind a game high 23 points from Terren Ward. The Wayne boys completed the sweep as they got a layup by B.J. Wright as time expired to win 72-71 over New Hampstead. Chamar Taylor led the way with 17 points for the Jackets while Wright added 12 points.
The Statesboro girls will take on Wayne Friday at 6:30, while the boys play Wayne at 8:00.
In other region tournament action the Southeast Bulloch girls locked up a spot in the state playoffs as they knocked off Jenkins 47-29. The Jackets were led by the one-two punch of Madison Taylor and Ansleigh Littles. Littled had 17 points, while Taylor added 16 in sending the Jackets to the semifinals. Southeast Bulloch takes on Johnson Thursday night at 7:00 at Windsor Forest High School.