Even as her South Effingham Lady Mustangs basketball team began to pull away from Hardeeville, Stacey Womack wasn’t comfortable.
But her team staged a decisive 19-0 run in the fourth quarter and easily brushed aside the visiting Lady Hurricanes for a 59-42 win Tuesday night.
“I didn’t feel I could sit down until there was a minute left,” Womack said. “I was nervous.”
After leading 25-24 at the half, South Effingham remained in a tight affair, never leading by more than five and falling behind 36-34. The Lady Mustangs trailed 39-38 with 4:13 to play in the game before embarking on their run.
Layne Graf and Candice Knowles got it started by sinking four free throws, and Katie Durrence scored the next eight points in 38 seconds as the lead swelled to double digits, 50-39, on her steal and layup with 2:27 to go.
The lead grew to 18 points when Durrence turned Iesha Reese’s long outlet pass into a basket with 1:10 remaining.
“I told them in the lockerroom the thing I was most proud of was finishing the game,” Womack said. “Last year, time and time again, they would lose a lead and lay down. I felt tonight they knew what it was going to take to win and they did it. That’s something I was looking for and I still really didn’t see it over the summer.
“It felt good to see them fight through and come out on top,” she said. “Hopefully, they’ll remember what that feels like and do it more often.”
Durrence finished with 18 points. Whitney Jones added 14 and Knowles had 12. Tiffany Burch scored six points, Reese had three and Graf and Katherine Perrin each had two points.
Womack was especially pleased with the contributions from her reserves.
“We had some players who came off the bench and played well,” she said. “We put Layne Graf in a lot of different positions, and Tiffany Burch had some big rebounds and big points.”
The Lady Mustangs also used the press to their advantage against the Lady Hurricanes, particularly in the fourth quarter.
“That’s something we’ve been working on,” Womack said. “We’ve been focusing on the defensive end. We turned the ball over a lot tonight — that’s one area we have to improve in.”