Tifton Gazette

Local Sports

January 16, 2013

Blue Devils stay red hot, dump Westover

TIFTON — It was a sweep for the Tift County Blue Devils against the Westover Patriots Tuesday night in Albany, one that left both coaches feeling pretty pleased.

“It was a great win for us,” said girls coach Julie Conner.

“Westover played real good basketball,” said boys coach Eric Holland. “They just hung around.”

The Westover gym is one that both Holland and Conner said is a tough place to play. Dubbed the Boston Garden in honor of legendary Patriots coach Willie Boston, games are played before big crowds before two teams always up for the challenge. “It’s difficult to win in the Boston Garden,” Holland said.

But win the Blue Devils did.

Despite Holland being called for a technical foul that the coach said stirred the crowd into a frenzy, they held on 87-77. Brannen Greene, who will be a Kansas Jayhawk next year, supplied 37 of the points. They are now 13-2, ranked the No. 1 team in Class AAAAAA by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and are unbeaten in the state of Georgia.

The night had gotten off to a good start for the visiting Devils, as the girls won 67-62. It was a complete turnaround from earlier this season, when they played Westover as their regular season opener. That evening, the Lady Patriots dominated defensively and went home to Albany with a 44-26 victory. Things have changed since then. Coming into Tuesday’s game, Tift possessed a nine game winning streak, having last been beaten on Dec. 19.

For the head coach, the win not just doubled as revenge for the opening game loss against Westover, it was revenge for several years.

“I have never won over there, so  it was really, really sweet,” she said.

In fact, the Lady Devils were zero for the last three seasons. In 2010-11, the Lady Pats won 58-44 and 39-29. Last year, the results were the same. Two Westover wins, 54-51 and 65-55.

Tuesday, Tift had big nights scoring-wise from the usual suspects, Dee Dee DeShazer and Alexis Johnson, who finished with 24 and 18, respectively. Conner said that they were far from the only big contributors. “I also had a big game out of Staceyanna (Murrell) and Brakia (Bateman). It took everybody. It was a total team win.”

While Conner said that Westover was good for Tift’s psyche, the big games are coming this weekend. They play the Colquitt County Packers in Moultrie Friday and then head in the opposite direction Saturday when they tackle the Coffee Trojans in Douglas.

Holland knows that the Devils will be the big draw in both places. “It’s going to be a packed house in Moultrie,” he said.

“It’s going to be some tough games,” Conner said, but admitted that she was feeling pretty good about her squad. “We’re doing the right things.”

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