Outstanding depth has made Effingham boys basketball practices competitive this season, to say the least.
"In practices, that quote-unquote first group that starts, if they don't get after it, I'll tell you what - they get beat," said EHS coach Ron Reed, whose team goes 11 deep.
"We really don't have a second five," Reed added. "We have a lot of starters on this team."
The Hearts' proved the latter statement on Friday at Salem, as 10 EHS players registered in the scoring column in a dominating 71-44 Apollo Conference win.
Effingham starters Hunter Keith, Leighton Lark, Josh Stombaugh, Jake Stombaugh and Clark Williamson got things going, responding to an early 5-0 deficit with a 19-4 run that had the Hearts up 10 points at the end of the opening quarter. Reed then installed Keenan Mahaffey, Alex Carie, Marcus Robinson, Tim Gardewine and Trenton Frey off the bench, and those reserves proceeded to extend EHS's lead to 16 points before most of the starters came back in late in the second quarter.
Eleven Hearts wound up playing in an impressive first half that had the visiting team up 39-17 at intermission, and Effingham (10-4, 5-0 Apollo) extended its lead to as many as 31 in the second half, remaining undefeated in conference play with an impressive win.
The Hearts excelled in every facet of the game, shooting 65 percent from the field overall, 55 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the foul line. They also frustrated the Wildcats (2-11, 2-3) with their full-court press and pressure man-to-man defense, forcing 21 turnovers.
"I thought the kids really played well tonight," Reed said. "They came out with a lot of energy. We kind of got off to a little of a slow start, but we came back and really had a fine first half."