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Hurley remains patient with ECHS girls rebuild
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 girls interim basketball coach Kyle Hurley teaches geometry in his classroom but he’d be hard pressed to explain the degree of difficulty of a shot banking in from about 35 feet out.

Hurley and his girls were poised to win their first game of the season on Nov. 22 when, at the buzzer, a kiss off the glass was more like a punch in the gut.

The Rebels and Greene County went to overtime and another 3-pointer was the difference in a 46-45 loss at the Joe Greene tournament at Beach High School.

“We had to live with it,” Hurley said. “We missed some free throws (during the final minute of regulation). We haven’t been in that position a whole lot so it was new to everybody.”

Hurley, an assistant coach last season, took over for Monica James and the degree of difficulty of turning around the ECHS girls program mirrors the difficulty of the miracle bank shot.

The Rebels haven’t won a region game in three years and haven’t had a winning season in seven years.

But Hurley has patience and, within 24 hours, he saw progress. ECHS (0-4) didn’t put up much of a fight against Chestatee during a 61-17 loss on the first night of the tournament.     The Rebels then fell behind against Greene County 11-0 to start their next game.

ECHS didn’t make its first field goal until the final minute of the first quarter.

Hurley hasn’t shown frustration. After starting his coaching career as an assistant at Ebenezer Middle School, he knows the process.

He was elevated to head coach the next season and Ebenezer won a middle school championship.

His timetable to ECHS’ head coaching job was similar. Attention to detail remains a priority.

“The things we’re working on most are boxing out and getting back on defense,” Hurley said. “And I’m still learning what the girls can do. It’s interesting. We put (guard Kyjana Jordan) in the middle and she did a good job of moving the ball around. This team is young and they work hard. Sometimes we’re starting 3 or 4 sophomores.”

Hurley learned he would be coaching the Rebels in September with only one assistant, Colleen Kennahan. He said some of the athletes play fall sports – softball and flag football – and they’re coming around to basketball shape.

Emma Reynolds, who stars as the third baseman on the softball team, sank two big 3-pointers in the final minutes of regulation against Greene County that gave ECHS its first lead of the game.

Jordan, a second-team all-region performer last season, could be the player to build around. 

The sophomore finished with 23 points, 15 in the second half and overtime.

The Rebels scored 18 points in the fourth quarter against Greene County – one more point than they had in the entire game against Chestatee.

“I think this year the scores haven’t been where we want them,” Hurley said. “We have a ways to go, but I thought we got better today.”