Statesboro head coach Lee Hill couldn’t specifically say what he told his Blue Devils at halftime Friday night. Whatever he said — it worked.
The Devils outscored visiting Lakeside 23-3 in the third quarter and took care of business from there for a 61-33 rout to improve to 4-2 in region 3-AAAA play. Nursing a two-point lead coming out of the break, SHS (13-9) jumped out to a 28-19 lead on a 7-0 run. Senior Justin Houston scored six points during the stretch, registered a block and capped off the run with a one-handed jam on a fastbreak.
Lakeside (3-16, 0-6), who didn’t score until there was :59 left in the period, was held to 1-for-7 shooting and turned the ball over 10 times. Statesboro stretched its lead to 38-19 before the Panthers could ever recover.
“Coach Hill (said) ‘If we just be patient and run our offense, and don’t worry about scoring, and just play good defense as a team, we’d be up by more than two points,’” said senior Sean LeGree. “Us, the team, the crowd, we all knew we should be beating these guys by more than we were at halftime.”
LeGree scored 10 points and pulled down five boards, but more importantly was part of a concerted effort to get the Blue Devil post game involved in the offense in the second half. Forwards LeGree, Houston and Patrick Parker combined for 28 points in the win and 16 in the second half. Eric Ferguson put an exclamation point on the quarter when, all in the last seven seconds, he hit a 3, stole an inbound pass and dunked the ball with one hand as time expired. Statesboro shot 10-for-15 in the third quarter.
“I told (the team at halftime) that we are not good enough to be playing like we’re playing,” said Hill. “We had to pick up the intensity, because they were playing with all the emotion. We can’t be overlooking any team we play.”
The Panthers gave all SHS it could handle in the first 16 minutes of the game, and even nursed a four-point lead at one point. The Devils outscored LHS 7-6 in the second, but only because of a Jared Houston 3-pointer at the buzzer. Jamel Bennett’s 3-point play to start the quarter gave LHS the lead at 17-13 before SHS came back. Statesboro led 14-13 after one, but was lost trying to figure out Lakeside’s 2-3 zone.
Without much luck, SHS shot 2 of 9 from beyond the arc and looked helpless and stagnate as the Panthers hung in the game with aggressive defense and high-percentage shooting.
Cody Marsh led LHS with seven points while three Panthers had six each. Justin Houston led all scorers with 15 points while Jared Houston added nine.
Lady Devils 57, Lady Panthers 21
It took a few minutes for the Lady Blue Devils of Statesboro to get going Friday night, but once they did, Lakeside never stood a chance.
Victoria Mikell and Monnette Bennett had 11 points each and SHS (14-9, 3-3) obliterated the visiting Lady Panthers 57-21. The Devils ran their offense to near perfection in the first half as they jumped out to a 38-11 halftime lead. Statesboro shot 17-for-28 from the field in the first half and held LHS (3-18, 0-6) scoreless over a span of 5:58.
“It always looks better when you’re shooting the ball well,” said SHS head coach Jeff Seier. “And the ball was going into the basket tonight. It really wasn’t that we were doing anything special in terms of Xs and Os, it just always look better when the ball goes in the basket.”
Lakeside was 0-4 to start the game and 0-6 to start the second quarter. Fifteen first-half turnovers didn’t help the Lady Panthers cause, either. While LHS was struggling, SHS turned to its bench for some more scoring. Marah Everett and Brittany Ross both came off the pine to combine for 18 points and 16 rebounds in the win.
“Marah was on fire tonight,” said Seier. “She started off the season with a good game against Southeast Bulloch and hasn’t done much since. It was good to see her back on track, her and Brittany as seniors on the court doing well tonight.”
Chandra Wideman led LHS with six points. The Panthers shot 10-for-45 from the field.
Statesboro will be back on the road today as they travel to Evans in another crucial region match-up. The Lady Devils play at 6:30 p.m. with the boys game to follow.