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Bluffton sharpens claws on Mustangs
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The learning curve for the South Effingham boys basketball team is taking some tough turns so far.

The Bluffton Bobcats beat the Mustangs 53-33 Tuesday night, dropping South Effingham to 3-5 for the season.

South Effingham trailed 23-13 at the half after giving up just five points in the second quarter. But they could not keep their momentum going.

“They came out in the third quarter and did not play with any intensity,” Mustangs coach Jason Keeler said. “The thing that is holding us back is we don’t have a chip on our shoulder. All great basketball players have a little bit of streetfighter in them. We’re content to leave the big gloves on.

“We’re not tough enough to overcome our lack of size, speed and athleticism. You can make up for a lot of shortcomings by being tough.”

Keeler was happy with the defensive effort. He has contended that if his team keeps the opposition around 50 points, they’ll be competitive.

“Defensively, we are getting better,” he said. “We really are.”

But the other end of the floor has been a trouble spot. The problem stems from the young Mustangs having little size, speed or experience to go up against in practice.

“Right now, we’re just not executing in games,” Keeler said. “That’s due in large part because we can’t simulate the speed and athleticism in practice. We can’t make a mental note that it’s not going to be this easy in games. Instead of being prepared for it and being aggressive, we do just the opposite.”

Jaron Mullins led the Mustangs with 12 points, and the Mustangs were 10-of-10 from the free throw line.

“We can take away some positives,” Keeler said. “The big difference for us now is execution. They’ve been given the tools they need on the court. They are still trying to adjust to the size, strength and speed of their opponent.

“We rebounded better tonight. We have to pull back and recognize those kids are doing what you ask of them for the most part and they are improving.”