The Effingham girls got off to another slow start, and Glynn Academy continued to apply pressure through the third quarter in a dominant 59-27 victory in its Region 2-6A opener.
The Red Terrors’ opponent entered averaging fewer than seven points per game in the opening period, and their woes persisted Tuesday as they were out-scored 16-5 in the first quarter.
Glynn Academy head girls coach Sharnesha Smith expressed the desire to watch her team deliver the first punch in games, and they obliged against Effingham.
“Finishing inside, that’s going to be our whole thing for the next week or so, just getting reps at finishing,” Smith said. “Other than that I thought we came out and had a lot of energy. We were making good reads from the start.
“That’s pretty much what I expected us to do.”
Four players scored for the Red Terrors (6-1, 1-0) in the opening quarter, including La’trinty Best, who scored six in the first en route to a game-high 25-point performance.
Best’s presence in the paint was a constant difference-maker in the game as she frequently crashed the offensive boards and put back misses and deterred the Rebels’ shot attempts.
“La’trinty Best has just been a beast for us all away around, in different positions on the floor,” Smith said. “She’s been more confident with her ball handling, which is making her more marketable. As a big, her position playing the four or the five, to bring the ball up the floor and go coast to coast.
“She’s doing a great job settling inside. She’s finishing well for us, and then she was just a beast inside rebounding. That’s all you can ask for. She had an all-around game tonight.”
Best scored nine of the team’s 15 points in the second quarter and single-handedly outscored Effingham (2-6, 0-1) through the first half as Glynn Academy piled on to its lead, going into halftime up 31-12.
The Red Terrors quickly snuffed any chance the Rebels had of making it a close game in the second half by embarking on an 18-6 run to open the third quarter, punctuated by Zoesha Smith full-court pass to Rebecca Riden streaking down the court for a layup with 3:05 remaining in the quarter.
The assist was a highlight on a mostly forgettable night for Smith. The junior entered the contest averaging just shy of 20 points and 12 rebounds a game, but she was held to eight points against Effingham as she battled through an injury.
“Zoesha, right now, is battling an injury,” Smith said. “We kind of had to keep her out a little bit, play her in spurts. She didn’t practice the last two days, so I expected that to happen.
“We just wanted her to get out here, just to get a little up and down. I didn’t want her to sit another day. I’m sure these next couple days off will be good for her as far as rest goes.”
The loss of Smith’s usual presence, at least for a night, was mitigated thanks to the efforts of her teammates — Best in particular.
Smith scored six points in the third quarter, and Best poured in eight more to help power the Red Terrors to their best offensive quarter of the contest. Glynn Academy led 53-20 at the end of three before calling off the dogs in the fourth quarter.
“La’trinty, of course, stepped up big,” Smith said. “She can do that any given night though. So I expect that from her from now on.”
Glynn boys 59
The Glynn Academy boys did just enough on both ends down the stretch to outlast Effingham and earn their first region victory of the season.
An inability to close out tightly-contested games plagued the Red Terrors last season as they suffered a number of close losses.
Committed to improving its play in crunch time, Glynn Academy (4-1, 1-0) made a positive step toward its goal by outscoring Effingham 10-4 over the final four minutes of play after the Rebels used a 9-2 run to tie the game at 49.
“Last year, we lost a lot of those tight ballgames,” said head boys coach Terrance Haywood. “Last year we lost three region games in overtime and two non-region games by one point.
“So kind of the focus this year has been being able to close out those type ballgames: when you’ve got to hit a free throw, you’ve got to hit a shot, you’ve got get a stop on defense, gotta get a rebound, gotta get a turnover. That’s kind of been our emphasis this year and the whole offseason, being able to finish games like this right here.”
Effingham (0-8, 0-1) entered the game winless on the season, but playing against a familiar foe, the Rebels looked revived early on against the Terrors as they ran out to a six-point lead in the first quarter.
Glynn managed to battle back to tie the game at the end of the first, but Effingham proved it wouldn’t simply lie down in the Region 2-6A opener.
“Effingham is a very good team, they know us well,” Haywood said. “We’ve played each other a lot. As a matter of fact, that was the last game we played last year. Their record is not indicative of how well they play.
“They’ve got a great coach in coach (Jake) Darling. They do a good job and I knew it was going to be a dogfight.”
Strong defense by the Rebels made for stretches in which the Terrors were unable to generate quality looks at the basket, especially during a block of nearly 14 minutes of game time spanning the second and much of the third quarter that saw Glynn score just 18 points before a hitting on a pair of 3-pointers to close the period.
Glynn Academy led by as many as five with fewer than three minutes to play before Effingham made one final charge. This time, the Red Terrors made enough plays to hang on.
“With a couple of guys hurt and pretty much everybody with three or four fouls in the second half, some guys stepped up and made some plays,” Haywood said. “It says a lot about their character and the kind of guys we’ve got on this team.”
Willie Murray made four 3-pointers and finished with team-high 18 points. Jordan Battle also hit a pair of 3s and finished with 13 points, while McKinley Keller added 10 points of his own.