ALBANY -- The Tift County Blue Devils took advantage of a short-handed Northeast Macon team winning 66-40 and advancing in the first round of the Albany Christmas Tournament.

The Blue Devils will now face the Dougherty Trojans who defeated Vidalia 88-46 in their opener. That game will begin at 7 p.m. at the Albany Civic Center.

Transportation problems caused the late arrival of the entire Raider team. Seven players, however, were transported to Monroe High School in time to start the game.

The Blue Devils jumped out to a comfortable 15-4 first quarter lead and stretched it to 17 points, 30-13, at the half.

Tift had its best quarter in the third scoring 19 to Northeast's 10. The Devils kept the heat on in the fourth with a 17-point effort.

Junior Aaron Gibbs led Tift with 14 points that included a pair of three-pointers. Senior guard Chris Powell also had two three-pointers.

For the third time in four games this season Tift had 11 players score. The other two occasions were against Lee County and Turner County.

Dougherty was led by University of Georgia signee Alexander Johnson with 14.

"It seems like every year we face somebody in the first round who is capable of winning the tournament," said Tift head coach Tommy Blackshear. Last season Tift beat Monroe in overtime, while in 1999 Tift fell to eventual state champion Westover.



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