SPRINGFIELD — It was a tall order but the short-handed South Effingham Lady Mustangs finally got it done Saturday.
Missing starter Melanie Zeigler, the Lady Mustangs (9-2) defeated the Effingham County Lady Rebels (2-9) 63-51. It was their first win over their rivals in three years.
"I'm very proud of the girls for stepping up," South Effingham coach Jenifer Hall said.
In addition to missing Zeigler's inside presence, the Lady Mustangs lost Jillian Pelote, another strong rebounder and defender, to injury in the third period.
Pelote's teammates gathered near their bench to pray for her as she was tended to near the scorer's table. Some of them had tears in their eyes.
"They've been real emotional this year," Hall said. "They really care about each other. Some of them have been playing seven years together."
The Lady Mustangs were up 34-31 when Pelote went down. They briefly lost the lead but rallied after learning the Pelote was OK.
"I think they wanted to win it for Jill," Hall said. "They had a purpose."
The contest was intense from buzzer to buzzer. It featured aggressive moves to the basket and players diving for loose balls.
"When you play Effingham, everybody's record is wiped clean," Hall said. "It comes down to who wants this game to this game time. It think it's who wants it the most and you have to want it every minute of the game."
Cianna Trenary led South Effingham's well-balanced offensive attack with 18 points.
"She's dynamite in a small package," Hall said. "I told her how impressed I was with her with (the Lady Rebels) playing man-to-man defense for ninety percent of the game."
Mallori Jenkins tallied 17 points for the Lady Mustangs. Destinee Owens and Pelote each added 12. Maleece Newbill tallied 10.
Effingham County got 12 points from Jasmine Kennedy and 11 from Catherine Hall.
In the boys game, the Rebels (1-10) notched their first win of the season, belting the Mustangs 84-56.
Tyler Griffin poured in a game-high 25 points to pace Effingham County. Khiry Wallace and Randy Scott chipped in 18 and 10, respectively.
Tyrese Everett led South Effingham (1-10) with 15 points.