GUYTON — The South Effingham boys basketball team went 2-0 in the Islands Thanksgiving Tournament last week. The Mustangs took down Bryan County 67-38 and Islands 62-52.
With the victories, the Mustangs have tripled their win total from a year ago, moving to 3-4 on the season. Head Coach Jesse Osborne is relishing every win, saying that they have provided a much-needed spark for a team that has struggled to put games in the win column.
"Against Bryan County, we played well," Osborne said. "It was a little change of tempo for us. Our defense is a little more active. We were able to swarm the ball a little bit more. Some things are starting to click on the defensive side of the ball.
“It was much needed to see points go up on the board and holding the team down in a lot less of a deficit."
Still, Osborne enjoys his team's role as the underdog, saying it lessens pressure on his players. But it's added motivation for them to hustle and compete.
"There’s no expectation other than us," Osborne said. "Everyone else in my opinion counts us out because of our past.
“What do you have to lose? Just go, play hard and make something happen. A lot of the guys on the team have embraced that, especially the seniors."
Although the Mustangs have nearly double their scoring average from a year ago, Osborne believes it's been their strong play defensively that has been the driving force behind their success.
"A lot of these kids are hungry," Osborne said. "They have shown a lot of guts. We are still learning each other and figuring out rotations.
“Things are starting to click but things are going to take some time. But that is what these games are for. They are a tune-up."
Osborne and his team enjoy savoring their progress.
"We are playing with a chip on our shoulder," the coach said. "We want to remember where we came from and stay humble. These kids are tired of hearing about South of old and how we’ve been the stomping ground for a lot of teams going many years back.
“It is of no fault of their own and they want to make a change."
Stamina has been a key factor in their wins as Osborne runs challenging agility drills. It is a tactic that was utilized less in his first season at the helm. But this year, Osborne heightened the expectations for his guys in practice.
"Coming into last year, I wasn’t really prepared," Osborne said. "It was my first year at the high school level. I didn’t prepare my guys enough as far as the running goes and I told myself this year running or being out of shape would not be an excuse.
“We’ve scored more than we did in the past because we are more active on the defensive side of the ball."