The Effingham County girls basketball team’s inability to score consistently wasn’t their Achilles heel Saturday night against Groves — not at least to coach Nate Hayes.
Instead, it was the inability of the host Lady Rebels to stop their visiting Lady Rebels of Groves.
Groves held off Effingham’s desperate rally and held on for a 43-40 victory after Effingham slashed a 14-point deficit to three in the final four minutes.
“They played hard,” Hayes said of his team. “We didn’t shoot well. But I was most disappointed in our defense. We didn’t play good defense.”
Kyana Barber, scoreless in the first half, started Effingham’s rally with a drive. Marie Fogle followed with a 3-pointer and answered a Groves basket with an assist to Sheniqua Goldwire.
Barber’s steal and layup brought Effingham to within 41-38 with 41 seconds to play. But Shaniqua Campbell, who had a game-high 12 points, came down with an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and Groves extended its lead back to five points.
Effingham (2-1) was down 14-3 after a quarter and Groves kept a comfortable lead until Effingham’s furious late rally.
“We could never get it under 10,” Hayes said of the first three quarters. “I told the girls, if you get it under 10, you’ve got a chance, and we got it under 10.”
Fogle and Shaniqua Goldwire each led Effingham with 11 points, with Goldwire finishing with a double-double. Barber had seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter.
Campbell led all scorers with 12 points and Mia Ready added 11 for Groves (4-0).
“I was OK with the hustle and the effort,” Hayes said. “You’re going to have nights where you’re not going to score. But you’ve got to play defense.”