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Rebels’ hoops dominance on the line against South
Effingham looks to extend 30-game winning streak against rival Mustangs
Gilbert Miller for the Effingham Herald Joseph Polite scores a basket for Effingham County in early-season action. The Rebels play South Effingham Friday, having defeated the Mustangs in 30 consecutive games.

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

Effingham County boys basketball coach Travis Priddy says you throw out the records when it comes to rivalry games.

You probably wouldn’t get any objection from South Effingham.

The Rebels will put their 30-game winning streak against the Mustangs, covering a span of 16 years, on the line Friday night at SEHS.

The night begins with a junior varsity girls game at 4 p.m., followed by a boys’ JV game at approximately 5:15.

The girls’ varsity game is slated for 6:30, and the boys are expected to tip off at 8.

“It’s big for the fan bases. It’s a county game, a rivalry game. I’m looking forward to the crowd and the atmosphere,” said Priddy, in his first-year coaching ECHS.

Priddy is no stranger to rivalry games after coaching in Savannah private school battles at Savannah Country Day and Savannah Christian.

His message for the Rebels: “We tell our kids, there’s a certain standard we want to play to and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing against.”

SEHS’ last win in the series was 86-82 on Jan. 6, 2007.

ECHS entered the week with a 9-3 record after losing two of three games at the Hounds Holiday Hoop Classic (Dec. 28-30) at Pope High School.

Playing without three starters, point guard Rashad Scott (groin injury), center Jordan Goldwire (flu) and forward Ashley Thompson (stomach illness), the Rebels dropped their opener to Cherokee 60-47. 

Thompson returned to the lineup for the final two games and ECHS beat Mount Paran Christian 67-37 before ending with a 56-51 loss to Kennesaw Mountain.

Class 7A Cherokee (11-2) went on to win the eight-team tournament championship.

“We had an unusual lineup in and it took us some time to figure things out,” Priddy said.      “It put us in a tough position, but it allowed some other guys to step up.”

Reserve Hayden Eason took advantage of extra playing time and scored 17 points against Kennesaw Mountain.

South Effingham entered the week with a 6-5 record after seeing action Dec. 15-17 at the Savannah Holiday Classic.      

The Mustangs, also missing some key players, lost two of their three games.

SEHS had 17 days off before playing Statesboro on Jan. 3 — an addition to the team’s original schedule.

The Mustangs, who have shown marked improvement after winning just three games a year, average more than 60 points a game.

ECHS has been excellent on defense. 

The Rebels are allowing just 41 points a game despite the sometimes shuffled lineup with players out because of the football playoffs at the start of the season and most recently illnesses and injuries.

“Our defense has been pretty good, but we’ve gotten off to some slow starts,” said Priddy, who used the Pope tournament as an example.

He said Kennesaw Mountain made eight three-pointers in the first half. 

The Mount Paran game was tied 24-24 at halftime before the Rebels pulled away to win by 30.

“We’re almost like that boxer who needs to be punched before he realizes it’s a fight,” Priddy said.