Mama, there goes that Mann!

Junior Jamaine Mann flushes Statesboro at the buzzer


Shelby Foster

Junior Jamaine Mann makes the game-winning layup against Statesboro. The shot lifted Starr’s Mill over the Blue Devils 48-47. Mann finished with 19 points and four rebounds.

Rilee Stapleton, Editor-in-Chief

This year’s Starr’s Mill team may not have produced at the level some expected, but Saturday night at Statesboro these Panthers silenced doubters when they defeated MaxPreps’ No. 12 team in the state 48-47 on an acrobatic buzzer-beating layup.

Regardless of our record throughout the course of the year, they don’t want to lose.

— head coach Charlemagne Gibbons

“These guys don’t want to lose,” head coach Charlemagne Gibbons said. “Regardless of our record throughout the course of the year, they don’t want to lose.”

Junior Jamaine Mann powered the Panther offense and locked down on defense. He totaled 19 points, including three three-pointers, four rebounds, a block and a steal. Senior Nate Allison cleaned the glass on his way to 12 rebounds, accompanied by nine points and a block. Junior point guard Daryl Rice tallied eight points, two assists and steal, but the energy he brought to the team provided a much-needed boost to propel Starr’s Mill to the next round.

Statesboro connected on seven three-pointers, four of which came from junior Zarion Griffin, who finished with 22 points. Junior Devin Mikell added another 12 points, and junior guard Joseph Burns hit two three-pointers in the fourth quarter during a Blue Devil run. Statesboro fell behind early on, trailing by 10 at one point, and spent the rest of the game trying to catch up. Their late run was almost enough, but Starr’s Mill stole the game on the road.

“[Mann], he’s a monster,” Rice said. “He really helps us win these types of games.”

The first quarter displayed eight minutes of tough defense and slow pace from both teams. Halfway through the quarter, the Panthers only led 3-2. The scoring picked up in the final minutes of the quarter, and the two teams were knotted at 10 after one period.

The second quarter proved to be crucial for Starr’s Mill, as they used the period to gain a lead. Statesboro struggled to connect on jump shots, and Allison’s rebounding denied them any second-chance points. Mann and senior Luke Presley, who finished the half with eight points, led the charge on offense as the Mill built a 10-point lead. The hosting Blue Devils went to the locker room down 28-18.

“The first half was big for us,” Mann said. “It really helped us set the tone for the game.”

Shelby Foster
Junior Daryl Rice attempts a layup after getting a steal on the defensive end. Rice displayed great hustle and energy all night, setting the tone for the rest of the team. He totaled eight points, two assists, two rebounds, and a steal.

Similarly to the first quarter, the third quarter was fairly defensive. The teams combined to score only 16 points over the eight-minute stretch. While Statesboro slightly cut into their deficit, they still trailed by eight, 35-27, going into the final quarter.

The last eight minutes of the game had the fans on the edge of their seats, as the Blue Devils resisted to go down without a fight. A tired Starr’s Mill team began to make mistakes, and Statesboro took advantage.

“I got tired there at the end of the game,” Rice said. “I made a couple of mistakes, but my teammates picked it up.”

With under a minute left in the game, the Panthers led 44-39 and had Rice at the free throw line. Rice missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the Blue Devils responded with a three-pointer from Burns. On the inbound, Rice slipped and fell, and Burns hit another catch-and-shoot three that pushed the score to 45-44.

Down one, Starr’s Mill inbounded the ball and Mann drove to the basket and drew a foul. After making both free throws, the Mill led 46-45. While pressuring Statesboro, freshman Malachi Townsend fouled Griffin with nine seconds left. Griffin made both, putting the Blue Devils up by one.

Starr’s Mill dribbled the ball past half court and called a timeout with 2.8 seconds left. Mann then inbounded the ball to Allison, who returned the ball to Mann. The junior drove to the basket and flipped up a reverse layup that fell through the hoop as the clock expired.

“[Gibbons] drew up a great play,” Mann said. “I wanted to dunk it, but there was a guy in front of me, so I did a reverse layup.”

Starr’s Mill narrowly escaped the first round with a 48-47 win at Statesboro. The Blue Devils finished the year at 20-7, while a 15-13 Panther team advanced to the second round.

The Mill will now travel to Warner Robins, the No. 8 team in the state according to The Demons boast a 22-6 record overall, including a flawless 11-0 home record. The Region 1-AAAAA champions defeated Union Grove 56-34 in the first round to advance to the next round.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 21 at Warner Robins.