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Effingham County boys edge Glynn Academy, Statesboro
Jake Darling
Rebels head coach Jake Darling displays his typical stoic demeanor as his boys basketball team celebrates behind him in overtime of a 2019 OT win over Glynn Academy. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD — Effingham County’s boys basketball season is still going fairly smoothly after a pair of close shaves over the weekend.

The Rebels (6-0, 1-0) topped Glynn Academy 56-45 in overtime Friday after trailing 39-29 in the third quarter. On Saturday, they nipped Statesboro 46-45 after Keion Wallace tallied Effingham County’s final four points on free throws.

Effingham County head coach Jake Darling has relentlessly challenged his team to be tougher around the rim. Still, the struggle to hit layups and putbacks was evident in Friday’s Region 2-AAAAAA opener against the Terrors (1-5, 0-1).

“We missed 14 layups in the first half,” Darling said. “That’s our Achilles’ heel right now because we are rushing our shots so much around the rim. We are trying to get it off, one, and we are trying to avoid contact, two.

“That throws off your touch — it throws off your precision — and that’s why we’re missing.”

Darling has a remedy for the problem but all the Rebels (6-0, 1-0) haven’t mastered it yet.

“I’m trying to get them to slow down when they get there and get a defender out of position so that we can relax and shoot our shot around the rim,” Darling said. “We worked on finishing all week. They are tired of hearing me say it and they are tired of doing drills but, eventually, I think it will start clicking.”

Necos Gadson clearly embraced Darling’s tactics in the fourth quarter and overtime Friday night. He tallied all but two of the Rebels’ 15 overtime points and finished with 24 overall.

Effingham County played stellar defense in the second half, too. Glynn Academy was limited to a single bucket in the final 10 minutes of regulation, allowing the Rebels to close a 10-point gap and force overtime.

“Our defense bailed us out tonight,” Darling said, “but defense should never stop. Defense can never have an off night.

“Tonight, and the past few nights, we’ve had off nights offensively.”

Darling isn’t letting the ongoing struggles detract from what his team has accomplished.

“Going 1-0 in the region is what we talked about all week in preparation for Glynn,” Darling said. “Setting the standards and setting our expectations for a region championship, tonight was the first step in that process.”

Wallace paced the Rebels against non-region foe Statesboro (1-1) with 17 points.

Effingham County’s girls didn’t fare as well over the weekend. The slipped to 0-5 after falling to Glynn Academy (7-0, 1-0) 74-15 and Statesboro (5-2) 71-19. 

The Lady Rebels, led in both games by assistant coach Wade Wright in the absence of head coach Patrick McClure, trailed 27-0 before scoring against Glynn Academy. Jania Taylor paced Effingham County with eight points.