SAVANNAH — The Effingham County boys basketball team opened its season with a 61-33 win over Benedictine on Thursday.
Although it was the first game, the Rebels looked as though they’ve been playing together for months. Excluding a few turnovers, Effingham County played 32 minutes of solid basketball.
“We’ve been talking about what we want our story to be individually and as a team,” Rebels head head coach Jake Darling said. “I really hit that home and the positive things we can do as a team. We want to make sure that every move we make offensively and defensively is a step in the right direction.”
Darling had a good feeling coming into the contest, saying he feels a sense of self-assurance in what his team can do.
“I’m really confident in our guys right now and their abilities,” Darling said. “These guys have done a great job of just working hard and buying in.”
The Rebels worked the full-court press to their strength, forcing the Cadets to attempt tough shots. And a block party ensued on the defensive end of the court where the Rebels used their length to swat away potential baskets by the Cadets.
“We have to play to our strengths and one of our strengths is our length and our size and athleticism,” Darling said. “We have guys that love to get out in transition and that is where we thrive.”
Senior Shemar Westbrook led Effingham County with 13 points but was most effective on the defensive side.
“Shemar has been a defensive leader for the last two years,” Darling said. “His energy on defense and his length on defense and his ability to change shots around the rim — he’s done a good job of that. What he does, he does really well.”
Brothers Khiry and Keion Wallace presented major challenges for the Cadets on both sides of the ball.
“Those two have been coming to my camps for the last seven years,” Darling said. “Seeing those guys in the fifth and sixth grade and then seeing them transitioning to young high school basketball players is great.”