For the third straight season the Statesboro Blue Devils have advanced to the second round of the state 5-A playoffs. Wednesday evening the 21-6 Blue Devils head to Buford to take on the 21-6 Wolves, who are currently ranked eighth in the state.
After winning 20 straight games, the Blue Devils stumbled in the region championship against Wayne County as they lost 49-46. The loss gave the Blue Devils the second seed in the state for the third straight year.
“I feel like that game really woke us up,” said Statesboro coach Lee Hill. “We had won so many games in a row, and hadn’t really been tested. We saw what can happen in a close game, and we realized other players needed to step up for us to make a run.”
The Blue Devils showed their resilience Friday as they opened the state playoffs with a game that resembled the ones during their 20-game win streak. Trailing 10-8 after the first quarter of play, the Blue Devils went on a 21-0 run and never looked back as they beat Woodland 77-49.
“We didn’t come out strong, but we played well defensively throughout the game,” Hill said. “Our shots started falling in the second quarter, and we did a great job of pulling away. I feel like the key was we got some help for Zarion Griffin, as Kobe Altman had 16 points.
Wednesday night the Blue Devils travel to Buford in what could go down in history as a battle of two of the most successful coaches of all time in the state of Georgia. In his 44th season Lee Hill is the winningest coach in the state, and has over 850 career wins. Buford head coach Eddie Martin is in his 38th season, and went over 800 wins earlier this year. Martin has won state titles at Norcross, Greater Atlanta Christian and at Buford.
“We have never played each other, but I’ve known him since the 70’s,” said Hill. “We have talked a lot at summer camps we have played in. He’s a great coach, and he’s won at a lot of different schools.”
Wednesday’s matchup will also feature a couple of pretty talented teams on the floor. The Blue Devils have won most of their games because of their pressure defense, and ability to shoot three pointers, and run the floor. The Wolves come in averaging just under 70 points per game, and have a 6-11 center, along with some athletics guards that are all over 6-4.
“They are definitely the biggest team we have played this year,” Hill said. “Whenever you have someone who is about seven feet tall, that is a tough matchup. They also have a few big guards and forwards who can shoot the ball. We usually like to play man-to-man, but we will be forced to play zone against them.”
The Blue Devils and the Wolves are scheduled to tip off Wednesday night at 6:00. The game will not be played at Buford High School, but rather will be played at the Buford city Arena located at 2795 Sawnee Avenue in Buford.