Bradwell Institute hosted Effingham County Tuesday to open Region 3-AAAAA basketball action. The Rebel girls handily defeated the Lady Tigers 68-35, while the Tiger staged a last minute comeback but still fell 59-53.
Both teams then traveled to South Effingham Friday night. The Lady Tigers lost a close match 39-33. The Tiger boys beat the Mustangs 50-32.
Lady Tiger head coach Faye Baker said her girls didn’t play sharp defense against a tough Lady Rebel squad Tuesday.
“We definitely need to make improvements. We’ve been working on defense a lot, but we are not playing the type of defense that we need to play to be effective,” she said. “We are not playing team effort defense. We are playing passive like we are afraid of getting beat off the dribble and not trusting our team members to step in and help.”
The Lady Rebels ran the court and by halftime held a 41-20 lead.
Effingham was led in scoring by Ta’Shauna Johnson with 15 points and Alayja Connely with 11 points in the game.
Baker said her starting point guard, Journae Young, did well and has shown continuing improvement from season to season.
“She is doing a great job out there,” Baker said. “She has really reduced her turnovers over the years and she handles the ball the majority of the time. She makes good decisions, great passes on the floor. In the first five games we’ve played this year, I am pleased with her overall play.”
Baker added she would like to see the rest of her girls follow Young’s lead.
“However, I was pleased with my freshmen,” she added. “I thought they came in and played with the type of intensity that we need to see from our upperclassmen.”
Lady Tigers Alyssa McDuffie and Young each scored six points. Ashanti Harris had five. Rayona Shuman, Raina Richardson and Brianna Johnson scored four each. Autiana Hightower, Esperanza Castro and Cassandra Ruff each scored two points.
The Lady Tigers were 10-of-19 from the line Tuesday.
Friday, Baker said the girls did much better, considering the team had to play without Young who was recovering from a dental procedure.
“We played a lot better than we did Tuesday night,” Baker said. “It was a close one and it could have gone either way in the fourth quarter but we missed a couple of easy opportunities that we had that could have very well made the difference.”
Baker did note that Castro, a backup freshman point guard, played well. The coach said Shuman, also a freshman, also played well, and the duo added valuable minutes in the game.
Baker said the Lady Mustangs have a Division I player, Shandrea Leverette, who is already committed to the University of South Florida.
“So the effort was there,” she said about her team’s fight. “We came up a little short, but if we can continue playing hard like that and improve, I am happy with that.”
They are 2-4 overall and 0-2 in region play.
The Rebels came out fast and furious, taking a 20-9 lead to close the first quarter Tuesday night and catching the Tigers flat-footed.
Rebel Deshaun Wilkenson led the Effingham boys throughout, ending with 21 points and a three-pointer.
The Tigers muscled up the defense in the second quarter and the offense drained 19 points to narrow the gap. At the half the Tigers trailed 33-28.
The Rebels’ run-and-gun and full press held the Tigers to only six points in the third. Bradwell made a strong fourth-quarter stance. Jaylon McNair drained a trey and the Tigers drew fouls going six of 10 at the line in the final quarter.
The clock ended the Tigers’ run.
Tiger Anthony Vicente scored 14, including two treys. Jyannti Haggray added 10, Jaylon McNair chipped in 9, Darryll Johnson netted 8, Brandon Hamlet scored 6, Deion Stewart scored 4 and Jordan Alexander scored 2.
Friday, the Tigers took out the loss on the South Effingham Mustangs, beating the Springfield team 50-32.
“This was the best team ball we’ve had from players in two years,” Tiger coach Rhett Hellgren said. “I am so proud of the guys on how they worked together and the unselfishness really showed tonight. The guys really showed what they are capable of doing out there when they work as a team.”
The coach said the team played balanced basketball with everyone playing their role.
“This is the way were going to have to play to win ball games this year,” he added.
The coach said Jaylon McNair has the toughest assignment every night and did his job well against the Mustangs.
“He gets to play the opposing team’s highest scorer on defense,” Hellgren explained. “He has proven to be our best defender and he had another great game playing defense. We also won the boards significantly and it proved to be the difference. I am really happy where this team is going and if they continue to work hard and listen to what the coaches are telling them, we will be just fine.”
The Tigers are 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the region.
Saturday, the Tiger teams were at Tattnall County for non-region contests. The scores of those games were not available by press time. Tigers will host Richmond Hill for region games Tuesday with the girls tipping off first at 6 p.m.
Boys box score:
BI 9|19|6|19 = 53
EFF: 20|13|16|10 = 59
BI: 8|13|21|8 = 50
SE: 8|9|11|4 = 32
Darryll Johnson - 4
Jyaunti' Haggray - 10
George Mitchell - 6
Anthony Vicente - 4
Jordan Alexander - 9
Justin James - 10
Brandon Hamlett - 5
KJ Milner - 2