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Mustangs learn about themselves in Savannah Holiday Classic
Taylor Jackson
The Mustangs’ Taylor Jackson (2), shown in a Dec. 7 home game against Richmond Hill, sank five first-half threes in a 66-59 win over Islands on Dec. 20. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON — The South Effingham boys basketball team went 1-2 in the Savannah Holiday Classic but its record doesn't fully represent the reality of what it accomplished.

The Mustangs endured tough games on three successive days while discovering some positives about themselves.

"We had a tough (61-55) loss against Groves," South Effingham head coach Jesse Osborne said. "We fought until the end. We had a chance to tie it up with 30 seconds left but it didn't happen.

“You kind of find out what your team is capable of. We pulled within two at one point. It was a free throw battle."

Against Groves, a team that downed the Mustangs 74-59 Nov. 8, South Effingham was able to limit Timothy Lawrence, a key playmaker for the Rebels. Lawrence had a standout game the first time around but the Mustangs refused to let the 6-foot-8 forward run roughshod over them in the tournament. The team knew it would take a solid defensive effort to have a fighting chance. 

"He was his normal self," Osborne said about Lawrence. "We kept him off the boards a little more than last time. He has one of the best verticals I've ever seen in a high school kid. His ability to jump and dunk is incredible.

“I think we did a much better job keeping him off the boards. They have kids that can score at any point in time. We did a pretty good job containing them.

“From a defensive standpoint, we did well. We didn't end in the win column but it showed we have improved." 

Taylor Jackson anchored the fast start with five successful shots from beyond the arc in the first half. Osborne said Jackson lit up the crowd with his hot hand. 

"It was impressive," Osborne said. "Everyone was in awe every time he shot the ball."

The Mustangs also dropped a 59-44 contest to Calvary but pulled out a 66-59 win over the Islands in a game that taught the Mustangs to never underestimate their opponent. South Effingham led by double digits going into the break but allowed the Sharks to pull within four during the second half. 

"In the Islands game, I think we scored 29 points in the first quarter," Osborne said. "In the second half, we didn't play good basketball. I think it opened their eyes and helped them realize they cant get complacent.

“Islands has some talented players. They made it very interesting."