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Rebels saving best for second half
Effingham Countys Khaleed Stapleton backs toward the basket against Swainsboros Jacolby Gibbons during the second half Saturday. Stapleton poured in 29 points to lead all scorers. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD — A trend has developed with Effingham County’s boys basketball team. The Rebels start slow and finish fast.

Saturday’s home game against Swainsboro followed that script as Effingham County rallied from a 34-23 halftime deficit to win 66-47. Their first two contests against Long County and Tattnall County — both victories — went likewise.

“That’s kind of been the whole deal this year,” Rebels coach Jake Darling said. “In the first half, we are kind of figuring ourselves out as we go, trying to figure out the other team as we go and then we get into the locker room at halftime and I have to scream and yell at them to get them going.”

The Tigers stormed to a big lead by ripping off an 11-1 run in a span of 46 seconds in the opening half.

“Part of that is that we hadn’t seem them play. This was their first game,” Darling said. “It wasn’t like we had a chance to scout them. It was hard to identify shooters.

“I told them before the game that we would have to identify those guys quick.”
Swainsboro is an experienced team that advanced to the Class AA Final Four last year.

“They are a quality, quality team,” Darling said.

Senior guard Trevon Wilkenson sparked Effingham County’s latest comeback by canning three successive three-pointers in the third quarter. He finished with 15 points.

Kha’leed Stapleton, a senior forward, was the Rebels’ leading scorer with 29 points. He was a force in the paint, getting rebounds and drawing fouls. He nailed seven of eight free throws.

“He’s going to have to continue to do that,” Darling said.

See the Nov. 29 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.