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ECHS’ Hurley seeing signs of life on two fronts
Submitted Effingham County girls interim basketball coach Kyle Hurley is trying to turn the program around.

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

SAVANNAH — Effingham County’s Kyle Hurley coached only one game during the last two weeks, but that doesn’t mean his holiday break has been uneventful.

Hurley and his family welcomed a baby girl, Millie Drew, on Dec. 20.

Basketball practice took a short pause before Hurley and his other girls, the Rebels, prepared for action 10 days later against St. Vincent’s in Savannah.

ECHS lost 41-29, but showed some fight in the fourth quarter, trimming a 14-point deficit to single digits before the Saints pulled away.

“(The baby) kind of took up most of my practice schedule for the first week (of the holiday break), but we got in some practices the next week,” Hurley said. “It gave us the chance to go over some of the little things, the fundamentals – ball-handling drills, passing drills. We had a chance to remind ourselves of some of our offensive tendencies and go over some defenses.”

The program is in a rebuilding process so signs of life don’t go unnoticed, dribbling can be fixed. Sophomore guard Kyjana Jordan, a developing leader, had a team-high 14 points against SVA.

Brianna Hall scored all seven of her points in the fourth quarter when ECHS rallied.

And Hurley saw positives from freshman center Nakera Hawkins, who had eight points while adding much-needed physicality in the paint.

“We’re going to have to out-physical teams because we’re not the most athletic team,” Hurley said. “I preach to them, being physical is how we’re going to have to play games.”

Just ahead is Region 2-6A competition, opening with rival South Effingham on Friday night. 

ECHS (2-9) has lost 35 straight region games since a 58-44 win over Richmond Hill on Jan. 25, 2019.

The Rebels have lost six consecutive games to South Effingham.

“That’s something we talked about as a program before the season started, the goals we wanted to set,” Hurley said. “South is a solid team. We saw that last year and it’s been a long time since we’ve won a region game.

“I’m a sports guy and I like the rivalries – the Georgia-Auburns, Michigan-Ohio States. I like rivalries. South is very good, but as a rival, we want to beat them.”

Hurley remains optimistic. ECHS is young. The Rebels lost to Portal 43-31 on Nov. 19, then beat the Panthers 33-31 on Dec. 3.

ECHS lost to Southeast Bulloch 54-39, but played more competitively in a 47-40 loss to the Yellow Jackets eight days later.

In Region 2-6A, Glynn Academy (2-9) and Evans (2-10) have mirrored the Rebels’ reboot.

“It’s a process,” Hurley said. “I think we can compete, at least being (competitive) in games and starting to build a culture for the future. We’re trying to get there.”