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Statesboro boys grab top spot in region tourney, ladies are No. 3
SHS Basketball
Statesboro High's Kam Mikell, bottom, goes to the floor for a loose ball against Brunswick's Camarion Johnson during the second quarter on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

The Statesboro Blue Devils wrapped up the regular season Tuesday as they split a pair of games with the Brunswick Pirates with the girls losing 51-41 and the boys winning 60-50.

The Statesboro boys came into the game tied with Effingham County for the top spot in the region and owned the tiebreaker so all they had to do was defeat Brunswick to lock up the No. 1 seed and be able to host the region tournament. The Blue Devils responded playing great for about 28 minutes and even though they let up a little in the fourth they still won by 10 points and earned home court advantage in next week’s tournament.

“I wish we could have been able to close things out better but I will definitely take the win,” said coach Keith LeGree. “We have to learn not to take our foot off the gas and let someone back in the game. The good thing is we now get the region tournament at home and that means so much. You get to play in a gym you are comfortable with and don’t have to worry about getting on a bus. I am proud of them for accomplishing that, but we still have work to do.”

The Statesboro boys jumped out to an early lead against the Pirtates and never looked back. Willie Ballard hit a three pointer just before the buzzer at the end of the first quarter to give Statesboro a 22-9 lead. 

The Blue Devils knocked down eight three-pointers in the game and had plenty of success inside the paint as well with Tim Taylor and Leslie Black leading the way. Black had another double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Head coach Keith Legree was happy with the way the Blue Devils played on both ends of the floor.

“For us it always starts on the defensive end,” said LeGree “I felt for most of the game we did a realy good job of applying pressure and keeping them off the glass. On offesne we worked the ball inside out and had really good games from Tim Taylor and Leslie Black. We are getting plenty of help in the backcourt as well and I like what I saw from Kam Mikell and Raylin Grant tonight.”

Statesboro built a 31-21 halftime lead and then put things away in the third as they opened on an 8-0 run on three pointers by Albert Mikell and Jecorey Hill and a putback by Black. Statesboro extended their lead to as many as 21 points and while the Pirates eventually cut the lead to six the game never felt in jeopardy.

Statesboro was led by Black with 18 points while Jecorey Hill had 11 and Albert Mikell added 10. The boys end the regular season with a record of 21-3 and 10-2 in region play. Up next, they will await the winner of the Brunswick vs Glynn Academy game. The semifinal matchup with be held Tuesday at 7:30 at Statesboro High.

The Statesboro girls came into Tuesday’s matchup with Brunswick alone in second place knowing that the only chance they had of taking the No 1 seed would be by beating the Pirates by more than 31 points which was one point more than the score they had lost to Brunswick by earlier this season.

The Blue Devils were without Alyssa Staten in Brunswick, and while she definitely made a difference Tuesday the Pirates were still able to prevail winning 51-41 and knocked the Blue Devils into a tie for second with Bradwell. The Tigers owned the tiebreaker and now Statesboro is the third seed and will have to play South Effingham in order to secure themselves of a spot in the semifinals and a state playoff berth.

Tuesday the Blue Devils struggled in many areas including having over 20 turnovers, shooting 2-19 from the three-point line and only making 7-17 free throws and still had a couple chances to cut the lead to six in the fourth quarter. 

“We really shot ourselves in the foot in many areas especially with the turnovers,” said coach Marty Holder. “We had unforced turnovers which is really a killer. They also beat us badly on the glass as we gave them second and third opportunities to score. You can’t do those kinds of things against a good team and expect to win.”

Holder is confident the two teams will meet again in the next week’s region championship.

“We just didn’t have anything really going well tonight,” said Holder. “I have been doing this a long time and I know it is hard to beat a good team three times. I feel like I have what I need to see on film to put a good gameplan together and I feel like we will meet again in the championship and we will take care of business.”

The Blue Devils were led by Madison Lee with 11 points while Shamaya Flanders had 16 for Brunswick. The Statesboro girls end the regular season with a record of 20-4 and 9-3 in region play. The Blue Devils will host South Effingham Thursday at 7:30 p.m.