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Monroe, Westover, Albany open Classic with wins; Dougherty falls

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- It's been said that life is just a series of adjustments. In the opening round of the U-Save-It Classic at Albany High on Saturday, Westover made those adjustments

Swainsboro didn't.

Onochie Ochie and Chris Wheeler combined for 10 points in the opening minutes of the third period to snap at 28-28 halftime tie, helping propel the unbeaten Patriots to a 65-49 victory over Swainsboro.

Ochie, who led all scorers with 17 points, fouled out two minutes into the fourth period, but by that time the Tigers had already been dealt a mortal blow.

Swainsboro (3-4) used a deliberate high-post offense in the first half, slowing the game down a bit before knotting the score at 28-28 on Devin Leach's put-back at the halftime horn.

The third period, however, was a different story as Ochie opened the quarter with a thunderous slam and Westover (8-0) scored 12 unanswered points to surge to a 40-28 advantage at the 3:55 mark.

Swainsboro scored just four points in the period, while the Patriots tacked on 13 more points to lead, 53-32, going into the final period.

"We weren't focused during the first half, we played lazy," Westover coach Dallis Smith said." Once we saw what (Swainsboro was) doing, we made some adjustments. At the half, we told Ochie and Wheeler we were coming to them. Both played well in the second half, plus we turned it up a notch or two defensively."

Swainsboro shaved Westover's lead to 12 points, 57-45, with 5:08 remaining, but could get no closer. Westover then reeled off eight unanswered points to push the lead back to 20, 65-45.

"I thought we played an excellent first half," Swainsboro coach Leroy Jordan said. "I'm still not sure what happened in the second. Westover had some adjustments, and just like the young team we are, we kept trying to force the ball inside, and it just wasn't there."

Ochie led all scorers with 16 points and Wheeler added 12. Lynquez Blair led Swainsboro with 10 points.

Westover will play Quitman County at 7 p.m. on Monday, while Swainsboro takes on Monroe at 8:30.

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MONROE BOYS 64, SOUTHEAST BULLOCH 27:

Robert Arnold scored nine points in the first period as the Tornadoes roared to a 19-4 lead and padded it to 40-11 at the half as Monroe remained unbeaten with a 64-27 romp over winless SE Bulloch.

Arnold led all scorers with 17 points and

freshman Jabori McGhee added 14 as the Tornadoes improved to 7-0 on the year.

The Tornadoes carried a 57-23 advantage into the fourth period where the GHSA mercy rule shortened the game by three minutes.

Chris Rogers led Bulloch with 12 points as the Yellow Jackets fell to 0-9.

"The first four games we really struggled to find a rhythm," Monroe coach Marquis Davis said. "At this point of the year is where you not only want to win, but have fun doing it. We are really starting to gel as a team."

Monroe, ranked No. 1 in The Herald's Top 5 Poll, will face Swainsboro at 8:30 Monday in the tourney's second round, while SEB takes on Keith (Ala.) at 11:30 that morning.

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STATESBORO BOYS 51, DOUGHERTY 49:

Herald Super 6 selection Arabian Williams scored a team-high 13 points Saturday in the Trojans' U-Save-It Classic opener.

But it was the two he didn't get to fall which will likely haunt the senior.

With Dougherty behind by two points, 51-49, with six seconds to play, Williams was fouled, went to the line and was shooting two free throws.

The first missed. Then the second missed. And Statesboro escaped with the two-point win behind 22 points from Jaquan Raymon.

Dougherty now turns its attention to Monday's second game of the shootout, which will come against Mount Zion at 5:30 p.m. at Albany High.

Statesboro, meanwhile, will face Riverdale next at 1 p.m. on Monday.