By: Donald Heath for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – South Effingham’s Alexus Parker owes Calvary’s coaching staff a lot for her development as a basketball coach. In the season opener, she hoped her Mustangs will learn from the Cavaliers as well.
SEHS’ girls played competitively, but had some weaknesses exposed during a 53-45 loss.
“We have to capitalize on the small things,” Parker said. “We missed a lot of rebounds and did a lot of reaching (on defense). We missed free throws. We missed layups. That’s the moral of the game.”
Senior guard Elena Hairston was a shining light with a team-high 21 points, but the Mustangs must find complementary offense in other places. Making more layups and improving on 4-for-13 shooting from the free-throw line wouldn’t hurt.
Executing the fundamentals had often been a trademark at Calvary where Parker played in high school and eventually worked as an assistant.
Her first chance at coaching came leading AAU summer travel team Tier One with Daniel Jackson, who took over at Calvary this season replacing long-time successful coach Jackie Hamilton.
“I was fresh out of college and I didn’t know anything about Xs and Os, but (Jackson) helped me grow in terms of coaching and as a person,” Parker said.
Last season, Parker and the Mustangs defeated Calvary in Savannah.
But that was last season. SEHS, which had a shot-clock violation on its opening possession, started slowly against Calvary in every quarter as the Cavs held eight-point leads in the first and second quarters before boosting it to a game-high nine, 27-18, three minutes into the third quarter.
But behind Hairston, the Mustangs stayed within striking distance and eventually forged ahead. Hairston scored eight points during a 14-3 run and her pass to Tyra Guyton for a layup in the final seconds of the third quarter gave South its only lead, 32-30, to enter the fourth quarter.
Calvary guard Destini Gooddine and forward Da’Maris Shields answered with 11 of the Cavs’ points in a 12-2 burst during the first three minutes of the fourth quarter and the Mustangs never got closer than five the rest of the way.
Gooddine had 12 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter. Shields had a team-high 21 in the game.
Parker said there’s work to be done before the Mustangs’ Nov. 18 clash with Woodville-Tompkins, which begins a four-game road swing.
But she was encouraged.
“We did a lot better than the scrimmage (a 54-29 loss to Richmond Hill on Nov. 4),” Parker said. “This is the time we need get better, where we grow and learn. You make the adjustments now to prepare for region.”