Rebels open their basketball season with Effingham Classic

Kha’leed Stapleton scoring against Brunswick in February. He’s the leading returning scorer. (File photo)

Practice? We’re talking practice?

 

Former NBA star Allen Iverson might have had disdain for practice, but high school basketball players usually benefit from three weeks of preseason workouts.

But eight Effingham County High School basketball players are at a disadvantage. They competed on the school’s football team and missed the first two weeks of workouts as the football team advanced to state playoffs.

Now Rebels Coach Jake Darling is hoping he has some fast learners. He’ll have his entire team together for just four workouts before it opens the season Friday against Long County in the round-robin Effingham Classic.

The second-annual, two-day tournament features four boys’ teams and four girls’ teams at the ECHS gym.

On Friday, Jenkins girls meet Tattnall to open the action at 4 p.m. Tattnall’s boys play Southeast Bulloch at 5:30.

Effingham County’s girls then take on Camden County at 7 p.m. followed by the boys’ game.

On Saturday, the Rebel girls play Tattnall at 5:30 p.m. and the boys follow at 7, also against Tattnall.

“I imagine beginning the season we’ll be very basic,” Darling said. “I have a lot of hope for a good season. I’m expecting a lot of good things from my seniors.”

The Rebels were 19-11 last season, advancing to the Region 2-6A Tournament championship game before losing to Brunswick 46-44 in the final seconds.

ECHS beat Brunswick, a finalist in the state tournament, twice during the regular season.

The Rebels will have to replace high-scoring shooting guard Jaden Rodriguez (now playing at Chattanooga State Community College), but Darling expects Rodriguez’s offensive contributions to be distributed among an experienced returning group.

Power forward Kha’leed Stapleton averaged nearly 13 points a game last season. Tydarius Fish, Demonte Lee, Samari Westbrook, Trevon Wilkenson and DeMario Gant saw significant playing time.

“I think it will be tougher for teams to scout us,” Darling said.

The Rebels should get a good test this weekend. Both Long County and Tattnall advanced to the Class 3A state tournament last season.

SEHS opened with Battery Creek

The South Effingham Mustangs opened the season against Battery Creek on Nov. 14.

SEHS advanced to the Class 5A football state playoffs, also leaving its football players who play basketball at a disadvantage.

The Mustangs, only 8-17 last season, should be improved this season with an experienced returning nucleus. They just missed the state playoffs last season after losing to Wayne County 48-46 in the region tournament play-in game.

SEHS will be in action Nov. 21 against Groves in Garden City.

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