The Wayne County Yellow Jackets shot the Effingham County Rebels out of their zone defense. Then, they proved too difficult to handle in a man-to-man defense.
The Yellow Jackets raced by the Rebels for a 58-38 victory Friday night at the ECHS gym. The Yellow Jackets improved to 5-14 with the win and 1-2 in Region 3-AAAA. Effingham fell to 6-10 overall and 0-4 in the region.
But it wasn’t so much the defense that disappointed Rebels coach Travis Dickey as it was his team’s offense.
“When you hold a team under 60 (points), you’re usually in pretty good shape,” he said. “But offensively, we allowed them to get us out of what we do. They got us out of sync.”
The Yellow Jackets didn’t run any gimmick or trick defenses against the Rebels. They relied on a straight man-to-man, with Eric Daniels matched up with Perry Herbert most of the night. Daniels limited Herbert to eight points, with half of that total coming on two steals Herbert turned into layups.
Wayne County never trailed, as Tay Hardy opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from the corner. Behind Marquel Manior, the Rebels were within one point, 7-6, midway through the opening quarter.
Then the Jackets scored on six straight possessions, triggered by 3s from Daniels and Dejunia Curry. By the time the flurry was over, capped by back-to-back Jared Patterson baskets, the Jackets led 19-6.
The margin swelled to 30-11 as the Jackets ran off nine unanswered points in the second period, with Jared Moore’s basket in the paint staking them to their largest first-half lead. Jonathan Duff canned a 3 and Herbert got his first two points — two free throws — with 44 seconds to play in the half.
But Curry opened the second half with a basket and the Yellow Jackets led 36-16. At that point, the Rebels had been whistled for over-and-back violations three times and had been called once for double dribble. Their infractions also included dribbling the ball off their own foot and out of bounds and throwing an inbounds pass that caromed off a Rebels’ foot and back out of bounds.
“I was not disappointed in the effort,” Dickey said. “But you’ve got to hand it to Wayne County. They showed tremendous patience on offense. They made their shots. I can’t complain about our defense. Offensively, we couldn’t get anything going.”
Vince Merritt’s putback put Wayne County ahead 38-16, the Yellow Jackets’ largest lead of the night. The Rebels began to rally behind Duff and Nolan Spake, who accounted for 11 points in a 14-6 run, sealed with Dimitri Hill’s 3-pointer.
But Effingham got no closer than 14 points the rest of the way, eventually falling behind by 22 points again as Merritt scored three straight baskets in the fourth quarter.
Hardy was one of four Yellow Jackets in double figures with 12 points. Curry and Merritt each had 11 and Moore added 10 points.
Duff and Manior topped the Rebels with nine points. Spake had seven, Hill had three and Tarpley scored two points.