The Statesboro Blue Devils split a doubleheader Thursday night with Richmond Hill. The girls were paced by Lacy Robins 22 points as they knocked off the Wildcats 50-38. The boys let a late lead slip away as they fell 52-47.
The Statesboro boys showed a lot of improvement from their 30 points loss to the Wildcats earlier this season, but foul trouble, and some uncharacteristically poor shooting down the stretch did the Blue Devils in, as they fell 52-47.
“I feel like we did a great job of getting back in the game tonight,” said Statesboro head coach Lee Hill. “But we missed free throws, and some easy shots down the stretch that really killed us.”
Statesboro led for most of the game despite getting in early foul trouble. Leading scorer Zarion Griffin picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, and was held scoreless the entire second half.
Griffin was one of the reasons the Blue Devils led the entire first half. Griffin had 13 points in the first half, including three long range three pointers, as Statesboro rushed out to a 19-8 lead. The Wildcats were able to stay close thanks to free throws, in a very tightly officiated game that saw Statesboro lead 25-20 at the half.
The Wildcats took their first lead of the game with just over three minutes to go in the third, as a three pointer off the glass by Braden Bakergave Richmond Hill a 29-26 lead.
The Wildcats would maintain that lead for most of the second half. Statesboro was able to get within one on a breakaway dunk by freshman Leslie Black at 36-35. The Wildcats pulled back ahead by five, but a pair of Joe Burns three pointers gave Statesboro a brief 47-45 lead.
Richmond Hill outscored Statesboro 7-0 the rest of the way as missed free throws, and missed layups doomed the Blue Devils the last 1:20 of the game, while the Wildcats iced the game with a breakaway dunk by Ethan Pickett.
“We played really well for most of the first half, and when we gave up the lead we fought back,” Hill said. “We just didn’t execute down the stretch. We have to just put this behind us and move on.”
Griffin led the way for Statesboro with 13 points, while Sheldon Lewis had 21 points for Richmond Hill. Statesboro falls to 1-4 on the season, while Richmond Hill improves to 8-0.
One bright spot in the loss was the play of Statesboro freshman Leslie Black. The 6-5 post player played a solid game scoring 11 points and pulling down eight rebounds, and going 5-6 from the free throw line.
“He has really come a long way,” Hill said. “You are talking about a freshman stepping up like he did tonight in a big time game. He wasn’t intimidated at all, and played really hard on both ends.”
Hill feels playing with the Blue Devils varsity over the summer is one of the reasons Black has been able to hit the season running.
“Being with us over the summer put him ahead of most freshman,” Hill said. “He was able to play a lot of games with our varsity against some tough competition, and I see that paying off. He is our biggest player, and we are really counting on him in the paint this season.”
The Statesboro Lady Blue Devils (5-2) never really looked like they were hitting on all cylinders, but still made short work of the previously 6-1 Richmond Hill Wildcats riding Lacy Robins game high 22 points to a 50-38 victory.
“That was a pretty good team we beat out there tonight,” said Statesboro coach Jeff Seier. “We may have looked a little uninspired out there on the court, but we will take a 12 point victory over a team like that.”
The Blue Devils held a comfortable lead for most of the first half. Robins scored 13 of her 22 points in the first half, as well as coming up with five steals, three blocks and five assists. A no look pass to Madison Lee, was followed by a no look pass to Jania Joseph as Statesboro opened up a 31-20 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils started to pull away in the second half using their full court press to force turnovers, and easy baskets. Jamiah Jones hot for three of her nine points, and Robins came up with a steal and a layup to extend the lead to 39-23, and they’d cruise to an 11 point victory.
The Statesboro frontcourt of Bailee Roberts and Madison Lee may have only contributed nine points and 16 rebounds, but Coach Seier feels their progress is what can lead to a deep playoff run this year for the Blue Devils.
“Bailee has played well in two straight games against some pretty good post players,” Seier said. “She has made the most progress of any player on the team. We count on her for rebounds, and toughness.”
“While Bailee is a softball player who helps us in basketball, Madison is a basketball player,” Seier said. “She has really improved with her shooting, and can knock it down pretty consistently from 12-15 feet away. She can play guard or small forward for us.”
Seier gives much of the credit to the continued progress of Lee and Roberts to former Statesboro post player, and current Blue Devil assistant coach Demetria McClouden.
“Credit to coach McClouden for working hard with our post players, and working on their fundamentals,” Seier said. “If we can get eight points and eight rebounds every night from Bailee and Madison I like our chances.”
Up next for the Blue Devils, they travel to Effingham County Saturday for a 6:00 tipoff.