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ECHS boys’ basketball season ends short of state berth
Jordan Goldwire
Effingham County's Jordan Goldwire (No. 4) gets ready to reject a layup attempt by Brunswick's Craig Battle Monday in the quarterfinals of the Region 2-6A boys basketball championships at ECHS. The Pirates won 64-41 to end the Rebels' season. (Mark Lastinger for the Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald


SPRINGFIELD – Effingham County boys basketball coach Tramaine Aaron watched his team bounce through highs and lows during the 2023-24 season.

“For a week or two, we’d be up, but then for a week or two we’d come back down. The consistency wasn’t there,” Aaron said. “The tough part was we put ourselves in position (to do something special) and then gave it right back.”

Sure enough, two weeks after winning five in a row, the Rebels stumbled down the stretch with four losses in five games and exited in the Region 2-6A quarterfinals after a 64-41 loss to Brunswick on Feb. 12.

ECHS finished the season 12-12 and failed to make the state playoffs for the second straight season.

“Although a lot of the guys were seniors, they didn’t have a ton of experience,” Aaron said. “I knew it would be challenging to ask them to do things they haven’t done in the past.”

Six-foot-6 forward Jordan Goldwire, guard Hayden Eason and Jeremiah “Paco” Lee, all seniors, played big minutes the previous season, but the trio wasn’t asked to carry the offensive load a year ago.

Aaron shifted the team focus on defense, but the Rebels didn’t always generate enough offense to win. They finished the season 0-7 when their opponent scored 62 or more points.

ECHS’ defense did have its moments and shined during a hard-fought 54-49 victory over eventual region champion Grovetown on Jan. 27.

But three days later, the Rebels lost to sixth-place Brunswick 63-58 – a team they had beaten by 11 in their first meeting – then scored a season-low 36 points against Glynn Academy in their next game.

The 23-point margin of defeat against Brunswick in the region tournament was the club’s largest margin of defeat this season.

Next season looks challenging. Aaron said his upcoming basketball team will lack height. But Aaron will have a summer to mold his team.

“I’m already laying out the groundwork,” Aaron said. “It’ll be a mind shift. What we lack in size, we’ll make up for in determination.”

Rebel girls end their season with loss to Evans

The Effingham County girls saw their basketball season come to an end with a 47-43 loss to Evans in the Region 2-6A girls play-in game.

It was a disappointing finish for the Rebels, who defeated Evans by 21 points just six days earlier.

Kyjana Jordan, a 5-foot-6 junior guard, poured in a game-high 25 points but ECHS added little offense from the supporting cast.

Shelby Ziegler had five points as the Rebels’ second-leading scorer.

Jordan ended the season with an 18.5-point scoring average (second in the region) and had 3.5 steals a game (fifth in the region). She had six 20-point games, including her career-high 40 against Evans in the Feb. 3 win.

ECHS finished with a 5-19 record in Danetia Jefferson-Howard’s first season as head coach. The Rebels won only four games during the 2022-23 season.