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Hephzibah Lady Rebels prove worthy of ranking
South Effingham's Candice Kennedy tries to wrest the basketball from the grip of Hephzibah's Chanel Fahrie. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

The Hephzibah Lady Rebels basketball team showed why they are ranked No. 1 among Class AAA teams in the state.

The Lady Rebels jumped out quickly and never looked back in an easy 55-15 victory over the South Effingham Lady Mustangs at The Corral on Friday night.

“They’re the real deal,” Lady Mustangs coach Stacey Womack said. “We never could get anything going against them. If there was a loose ball, they were all over it before we even knew there was a loose ball.”

Jasmine Judge had as many points in the first half as the Lady Mustangs managed for the game. Judge finished with 17. Aarika Judge tied the Lady Mustangs on her own in first-half production with eight points.

The Lady Rebels improved to 16-1 on the season and are 4-0 in Region 3-AAA. South Effingham fell to 5-12 for the year and 1-3 in the region.

Katie Durrence led the Lady Mustangs with four points while Layne Graf, Iesha Reese, Gabrielle Wright, Whitney Jones and Alexis Mercer each had two points. Whitney Parrish had one point.

Womack asked veteran Hephzibah coach Wendell Lofton, who has 625 career wins, for advice before the game on building a program. The Lady Rebels were 89-7 — with one state championship and a state runner-up finish — over the previous three years.

“He said it takes time, it just takes time,” she said.

Hephzibah held South Effingham scoreless for the first 10:48 of the second half — the fourth quarter was shortened to six minutes — until Durrence’s baseline jumper with 3:12 to play.

Womack took a little solace from the finish of the game, as her young players matched up against Lofton’s younger players.

“For the last minute and 35 seconds, he had all ninth and 10th graders on the floor and I had all ninth and 10th graders on the floor, and we outscored them 5-0,” she said.

The Lady Mustangs will travel to Liberty County on Tuesday.