GUYTON — The South Effingham boys basketball team saw its season come to an end Feb. 3 with a 58-47 loss against Wayne County.
The Region 2-AAAAA tournament play-in game was a back-and-forth battle that featured a third-quarter surge by the Mustangs. Wayne County, however, pulled away late in the fourth quarter to clinch the win and went on to beat Statesboro 49-46 four days later to win the region crown.
“We played well at times. It just wasn’t consistent toward the last minutes of the game,” Mustangs head coach Jesse Osborne said. “We had too many turnovers and that cost us in the end. They hit a couple threes to pull away late.
“It was kind of the dagger I guess you could say. We could never really grab ahold of the game. We came out of the half and did a lot of things well. We came out and got a lot of second-chance points and we did a good job rebounding.”
The Mustangs finished the season 7-19, improving their win total from a year ago by six games. It was a positive finish in the eyes of Osborne.
“I’ve been reflecting on it a little bit,” Osborne said. “We’ve earned a little bit more respect from teams in the past that pummeled us. We had our fair share of (hard]) games this year but I think we competed at a high level to earn respect from these teams.
“Next year, our region (2-AAAAAA) is not going to be easy by any means. We want to carry over our confidence into next year with that in mind, knowing we had a decent year and we could have walked away with four or five more wins but we competed a lot more.”
The Mustangs will lose Taylor Jackson, Walker Dickey, Matthew Callaway and Michael Calloway to name a few. But with leading scorer Andrew Butler returning, along with Ameer Pollak, Jimmie Butler and a host of competitive JV players, the Mustangs are looking ahead as new faces emerge.
“Joell Laldee, Carson Spendiff and Carmello Furlough — those guys are going to add another element to our game,” Osborne said. “It is a new team. It’s exciting. I told them after the game I am excited for next year.
“I am excited about what we did and I am excited about this summer (of practice).”
Osborne is especially grateful to his seniors for their commitment to the program.
“I am proud of them,” he said. “They competed and they set a good example for me and they never quit on me. They paved the way for these guys coming up.
“To them I say, thank you.”