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Rebels close regular season with dramatic win
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Jonathan Duff (11) had four points, but it was his blocked shot with 10 seconds left that proved to be the play of the game Friday night. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

The Effingham County Rebels basketball team needed to do something to stop Vidalia’s Terrance Jackson.

The Indians’ guard had hit four 3-pointers as the Indians claimed a 10-point halftime lead. But his last shot proved to be the game-winner — for the Rebels. Jonathan Duff, playing in his last home game, blocked it with 10 seconds left, and Darryl Wright converted on the other end to seal a dramatic 66-62 win Friday night.

“I told them we’ve got to stop them from scoring,” Rebels coach Travis Dickey said of his halftime talk to his team. “(Jackson) killed us in the second quarter. Give Jonathan Duff credit. He shut him down in the second half.”

Behind Jackson, who drained four straight 3-point shots, the Indians opened up a 12-point lead in the second quarter and led 42-32 at halftime. The Rebels, however, roared out of the gates in the second half, scoring the first seven points of the third quarter and going on a 15-2 run to take a 47-44 lead.

Senior Nolan Spake, also playing his last home game, followed up Duff’s missed 3, to put Effingham ahead by three points. Henry Gardner tied the game with a 3, but Duff, on a pass from Perry Herbert, reclaimed the lead for the Rebels.

But even with that burst to start the quarter, it took Duff’s block of a Jackson drive just before Spake’s basket to wake up the crowd. They saw a tight finish, as the teams were tied four teams in the fourth quarter.

Effingham led by as much as six, 53-47, on Marquel Manior’s follow, but the Indians drew even at 54-54 on two Jackson free throws. His drive with 2:41 to play tied the game at 60-60 and he hit two more foul shots with 2:14 remaining for a 62-61 Vidalia lead.

Brandon Woodward stole a lob pass intended for Wright with 1:20 to play but the Rebels got the ball right back on a steal, leading to a Wright layup and a 63-62 lead with only 55 seconds remaining.

“We just did it defensively,” Dickey said. “I was really pleased with the effort in crunch time. They played smart, and they kept their heads.”

Vidalia led by as much as seven points in the first quarter before Effingham charged back into the game, with Herbert’s 3 starting the run. From there, the game was tied three times in the final two minutes of the first quarter.

Manior hit one of two free throws with 6:05 remaining in the first half, drawing the Rebels within 25-22, before Jackson began his impressive barrage of 3-point shooting, including a 3 with two Rebels flying at him.

Jackson was the only Indian in double figures, finishing with 21 points.

Manior led the Rebels with 18 points before fouling out. He had the first five points of the second half to spark Effingham’s decisive run.

“Marquel Manior played his guts out,” Dickey said. “He kept us in it.”

Herbert had 16, Tarpley scored 12, Spake had 10, Wright finished with six and Duff had four.