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WJMS boys win fourth title in five years
The William James Middle School boys basketball team poses after winning the Coastal Empire Region championship.

Bulloch County high school basketball teams have had tremendous success over the years, and if the accomplishments of the Bulloch County middle schools are any indication, things shouldn’t be slowing down any time soon.

The Southeast Bulloch middle school girls captured the coastal empire championship for the first time in school history, while the William James middle school boys recently won their fourth title in the past five years.

The Knights defeated Effingham County 43-30 Saturday to secure their fourth championship over the past five season. The Knights were led by Leslie Black with 13 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots, while James Flagg added 16 points and five rebounds.

“Our guys came up short last year, so I was very proud of their effort to win it this season,” said WJMS coach Brian Hall. “We were up 16-3 but Effingham came back to make it close at halftime. In the second half our guys really focused and we were able to pull away.”

Success at William James is nothing new as the Knights have won 10 Coastal Empire championships over the past 20 years, but they have really turned things up a notch recently have won six in the last 10 years.

“We really have a great coaching staff who really care about our kids,” said Hall. “Our kids work really hard, and are coachable, which makes a huge difference as to their improvement over time in our program.”

William James is one of two middle schools feeding players to Statesboro High. Both Langston Chapel and William James have had success through the years, which has been one of the reasons Statesboro High head coach Lee Hill is always able to reload, rather than rebuild.

“Our middle schools programs have produced some pretty good players through the years,” Hill said. “I go out and see them play from time to time, I saw William James play this year, and they have a few kids that may be able to play for us pretty soon.”

“Brian Hall actually comes here after their season is done,” Hill said. “He is a good coach, and having him on the bench can be helpful as many of our players played for him so he knows their games pretty good.”

Hall and Hill go back to the 90’s when Hall was an assistant on Hill’s staff.

“I learned a lot from being on the bench and at practice with Coach Hill,” Hall said. “We try and run some of the stuff he runs at Statesboro High to try and get the kids ready for the transition. Of course some of his stuff is a little advanced, but I think we do a good job working on the fundamentals to get them ready.”

“I wish both the middle schools could run more of our offense and defense,” Hill said. “I know the coaches are limited and like to run what suits their program, but I am happy they try and get the kids ready the best they can for high school, and things have worked out pretty well for all of us.”