The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets were swept by South Effingham in their basketball season openers, but the Jacket boys and girls gave their first year head coaches plenty to be optimistic about.
Southeast Bulloch 79 - South Effingham 72
The Southeast Bulloch boys led throughout the first half Tuesday against South Effingham, but were unable to overcome a cold shooting third quarter in which they were outscored 20-8, as they fell 79-72.
“We got really tired out there, and it showed in the second half,” said Southeast Bulloch coach Matt Kuykendall. “We are really thin, but we should have played better defense out there. I was pleased with how we did in the first half, now we need to show that same intensity for a whole game.”
The Jackets controlled the tempo for most of the first half, and were successful with their dribble drive penetration. Ryon Reed hit a three pointer from the corner off the glass to help SEB to a 9-6 lead, and they would extend that to 11-6 at the end of the first,
In the second quarter the fouls started piling up for both teams. The Jackets were in the double bonus with over five minutes to play in the second, while the Mustangs joined them with about three minutes to go. The Jackets got the majority of their points in the paint and were up 24-16. South Effingham came back to tie the game at 24-24, but Jordyn Bradford connected on a three pointer from the top of the key to give Southeast a 31-27 halftime lead.
The third quarter would be the Jackets downfall. Southeast missed a number of layups, and saw the Mustangs race out to a 36-33 lead. Yellow Jacket turnovers turned into Mustang layups, and South Effingham senior guard Michael Calloway took over, scoring 21 of his game high 30 points in the second half.
Trailing by as much as 62-48 the Jackets made a late run in the fourth. Sophomore guard A.J. Williams scored eight of his team high 25 points in the fourth quarter. Bradford chipped in with a couple of three pointers and finished the night with 17 points. The Jackets eventually got to within five points, but it wasn’t enough as they fell by seven.
“We are going to score points this year,” Kuykendall said. “We scored 72 points tonight, but we gave up 79, and we have to improve our defense. We also got in foul trouble and had to play some younger guys tonight. That's good they got to play, and in the long run that will help us with our depth.”
Williams led the Jackets with 25, Bradford added 17, and Omaris Coleman had 13. Calloway led the Mustangs with 30 points.
Southeast Bulloch 38 - South Effingham 43
Southeast Bulloch head coach Meredith Belcher was congratulated by many Southeast Bulloch coaches and administrators after the Jackets game with South Effingham Tuesday night. She asked a few of them if they understood the team lost the game, but that just shows you what an effort the youthful Jackets put up Tuesday, and what their head coach expects in terms of success.
The Jackets lost the majority of their scoring and rebounding with the graduation of Krystyn Turner and Aalylah Sandifer. The inexperienced, youthful Jackets found themselves trailing 20-10 at the half, but stormed back to tie the game late before finally falling 43-38.
“The seniors really stepped up tonight,” said Belcher. “I knew Jayden could play, but our other two seniors showed some fight tonight. Our younger players made some silly errors, but I felt like everyone was out their hustling tonight.”
The Jackets made only four field goals in the first half, and trailed 20-10 at the half, but finally got things going in the third quarter. The Jackets closed the third on a 12-5 run keyed by a couple baskets by Jayden Smith, and Shazana Johnson to trim the lead to 25-22. The run continued into the fourth as a Smith jumper tied the game at 27-27.
The Mustangs ht three straight baskets to extend their lead to six, but the Jackets didn’t fold up their tents as Ansleigh Littles connected on a long three pointer trimming the lead to three at 33-30. That’s as close as this one would get though, as South Effingham went on a 9-0 run, and wound up winning 43-38.
“We made great improvement from our scrimmage game last week with Burke County,” Belcher said. “If we can keep playing hard, and showing improvement I feel we will be able to compete by the time region play comes around.”
Smith and Littles each had 10 points for the Jackets, while Melanie Zeigler led the Mustangs with 15 points. Up next Southeast Bulloch hosts Statesboro High Friday with the girls starting at 6:00 and the boys at approximately 7:30.