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Rebels shoot their way past Mustangs
ECHS notches its first win of the season
South Effingham’s Zach Anderson tries to beat a trap set by Effingham County’s Jon Duff. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

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From basket to basket

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ECHS and SEHS battle it out on the court

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Shooting has been a problem at the start of the basketball season for the Effingham County Rebels. Not so Tuesday night.

Stephen Tarpley’s 3-pointer started a decisive third-quarter run, and the Rebels held off the homestanding South Effingham Mustangs 60-47 Tuesday night. The Rebels hit seven 3-point shots in all.

“It makes a difference when you make shots,” Rebels coach Travis Dickey said after his team picked up its first win of the season. “We’ve still got to get better about keeping them off the boards and about not getting fouls. But we needed a win, and we got a win.”

The win was in doubt for much of the game, until the Rebels reeled off 10 unanswered points to close out the third quarter. Alex Reid’s 3-pointer put South Effingham ahead 8-7 at the 5:30 mark, but the Rebels responded with an 11-0 spurt, capped by Nolan Spake’s 3.

But the Mustangs put together back-to-back three-point plays, and Eddie Harris’ two free throws cut the gap to 18-16.
“We had some success with the trap early on, and they adjusted,” Dickey said.

For nearly the next 17 minutes, the two rivals were within five points of each other. Aaron Fisher followed Zach Anderson’s layup off a coast-to-coast drive with a basket for a 23-18 Mustangs lead, their largest of the night.

Perry Herbert, who had a game-high 21 points, drained two 3-pointers and added a baseline jumper to give the Rebels a 28-26 lead.

“(Herbert) is a quick shooter,” Mustangs coach Jason Keeler said. “We didn’t adjust and close out on him well. We gave him far too many open looks. Hat’s off to him — he nailed them.”

Fisher, a freshman, answered for the Mustangs with consecutive dunks, the second giving the home team a 30-28 halftime lead. Fisher led the Mustangs (2-3) with 17 points.

“I’m really proud of him,” Keeler said. “He made freshman mistakes. But I’m proud of him for going out and playing hard. I think he learned a little bit about himself tonight. We’re working with him and teaching him to play with his back to the basket.”

Jaron Mullins’ 3-pointer with 3:16 to play in the third put the Mustangs ahead 35-33. But when Tarpley drained his 3 19 seconds later, the lead belonged to the Rebels for good.

“We could have easily come out and played flat in the second half,” Dickey said. “They managed to come out strong in the second half. It was nice to be able to get a lead and hold it.”

Herbert’s 3 stretched the margin to 43-35 and it grew to 10 on Jon Duff’s bucket to open the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs committed turnovers on six consecutive possessions, much to their coach’s consternation.

“We’re still learning how to compete, and I think that was evident there in the third quarter,” Keeler said. “The game is 32 minutes long and we played in spurts. We played hard for a stretch and then took a minute off. That’s why basketball is the best team sport — there are no do-overs.

“I really feel like we beat ourselves. Not to take anything away from the effort of Effingham County. In tennis, you have unforced errors, and that’s what we did tonight.”

Fisher cut the gap back down to eight three times in the fourth, the final occasion coming with 5:30 to play. But Herbert’s layup off a steal and Duff’s 3-pointer gave the Rebels some breathing room.

“We learned we can go into a difficult place to play and we learned we can keep our poise,” Dickey said. “We’ve got to get better position on the defensive end and play better technique and quit committing so many fouls. We continue to miss opportunities, but I’m pleased with how the guys played.”

Spake added 15 points and Duff had 11 for the Rebels, who also got seven points from Tarpley, four from Darryl Wright and two from Marquel Manior.

Anderson had eight points for the Mustangs while Harris scored seven, Reid finished with six and Mullins, Justin Hatten and Jamaal Bynes each had three.

“I was proud of our fans and their support,” Keeler said.

The two teams will meet again Jan. 5 at Effingham County High School's gym.