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Statesboro hoops sweeps through SEB
SHS Basketball
Statesboro High's Timothy Taylor gets loose on a breakaway as the Blue Devils pull away from Southeast Bulloch on Saturday, Jan. 22.

The Statesboro Blue Devil boys and girls basketball teams were anxious to get the bad taste out of their mouths after being swept at Bradwell and unfortunately for the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets they were the next team on the Statesboro schedule. The boys and girls both started a little slow but put things in overdrive in the second half with the girls winning 87-43 and the boys completing the sweep with a 73-39 victory.

In the girl’s game the Jackets actually led the Blue Devils 22-21 in the second quarter thanks in part to the play of junior Madison Taylor who finished the game with 24 points. The Blue Devils finished the second quarter on an 18-3 run and then never looked back outscoring the Jackets 48-18.

“Southeast was going to come in and give us their best punch,” said Statesboro coach Marty Holder. “Madison Taylor played her heart out tonight and is a great player. We finally just took her out of the game for the most part in the middle of the second quarter with multiple players guarding her and our offense started clicking. We still have a lot of work to do but I liked the way we played defense for the most part tonight.”

Holder felt it was important to be able to play the day after their upset loss to Bradwell before they get back into region play this week.

“It was definitely good to be able to put last night’s loss behind us,” said Holder. “We don’t play again until Tuesday so we would have had to have that on our mind the whole time. Tonight, shows us how good we can be with everyone on the same page and hopefully we can remember that this week.”

Southeast Bulloch coach Jason Cave was proud of the way the Jackets fought against the much more experienced Blue Devils.

“We hung with them for a while and that was thanks in large part to the play of Madison Taylor,” said Cave. “That is a very good 6-A basketball team we just played and playing a team like that should help us as we get back to region play this week.”

Taylor was tied by Statesboro’s Reya Johnson with a game-high 24 points. Ashari Washington had 15 points while Malaya Dekle added 11 second half points. 

Statesboro improves to 16-3 overall and 6-2 in region play. Southeast Bulloch falls to 3-11 overall and 2-3 in region play. Up next the Blue Devils host South Effingham Tuesday at 6:00 while the Jackets travel to Beach Friday for a 6:00 start.

The Statesboro boys were coming off a loss at Bradwell in a game in which they saw a nine-point lead slip away. For most of the first half it looked like a similar situation, before the Blue Devils turned up the defensive intensity and pulled away from the scrappy Jackets.

The Yellow Jackets led the Blue Devils 21-19 in the second quarter and then the Blue Devils managed a 9-0 run to close the half to take a 28-21 halftime lead. The Blue Devils pulled away for good in the third quarter as they outscored the Jackets 19-4 to open the quarter paced by a suffocating defensive pressure.

“The last couple games we haven’t played poorly we just haven’t closed the games out,” said LeGree. “Tonight, we let them hang around for a lot of the first half but then in the second half we closed them out and played the kind of defense I know we are capable of playing.”

“We are finally getting a lot of guys back and we are now much deeper,” said LeGree. “We haven’t been able to apply the pressure I like to put out there because of our lack of depth. Tonight, we had some good rotations in and we never looked tired.”

For the Jackets head coach Matt Kuykendall saw a few positives, but felt the Jackets lacked the physicality to compete with the Blue Devils on this night.

“I felt like the effort was there but they were just much more physical and really beat us inside tonight,” said Kuykendall. “I felt like we moved the ball and got some good looks but we just couldn’t get anything to fall. We tried to fill our non-region schedule with good teams because our region is so tough. Hopefully we learn from this one and use it to help us in the region games.”

Statesboro was led by JeCorey Hill with 18 points while Leslie Black added 13 points and 13 rebounds while Jaylin Mikell added 11 points. Khristian Clark had 11 to lead the Jackets while Collin Smith added 10 points. 

The Blue Devils improve to 16-3 overall and 6-2 in region play while Southeast Bulloch drops to 8-8 overall and 1-4 in region play.

Elsewhere the Portal Panther boys improved to 10-5 overall and 7-2 in region play as they knocked off Screven County 71-52 behind 18 points from both Amir Jackson and Joseph Thomas. The Panther girls lost 50-23. Portal hosts ECI Friday at 6:00.

The Bulloch Academy Lady Gators improved to 17-2 overall and 5-0 in region play as they knocked off Savannah Christian 63-20 behind a game high 20 points by Armani Cooke. The boys lost 63-47 to fall to 0-14 and 0-5 in region play. Bulloch Academy hosts Calvary Day Tuesday at 6 p.m.