Makayl Rakestraw, shown here in East Jackson's season-opener with Oglethorpe County, scored 24 points in the Eagles' Friday (Nov. 15) loss to Cherokee Bluff and Saturday (Nov. 16) win over Habersham Central. 

The East Jackson boys’ basketball team shook off a tough loss to Cherokee Bluff and got back in the win column with a victory over a Class AAAAAA squad.

The Eagles beat Habersham Central 58-55 Saturday (Nov. 16) at home after falling to Cherokee Bluff the previous night, 64-58. The Eagles were unable to hold on to a 13-point halftime lead in that game.

“The biggest question I had was how was my team going to respond after the dog fight we were in versus Bluff,” coach Jarvis Smith said.

Rakestraw scored a game-high 21 points against Habersham Central, all in the second half, to lead East Jackson.

The undersized Eagles got off to a slow start and saw Habersham Central dominate the boards but still held a 22-18 lead at the half.

“Our guys were challenged during halftime, and we responded in the second half,” Smith said.

Rakestraw produced his big second half, and R.J. White came off the bench and gave the team a lift, according to Smith. White finished with 17 points.

“Our bench play has been very good at the start of the year,” Smith said.

In the loss to Cherokee on the road on Friday (Nov. 15), Smith said he was pleased with the overall effort to compete with the Bears, who went 15-11 a year ago.

Despite being outsized, East Jackson took a 39-26 halftime lead, but “came out a little flat” in the third quarter, according to Smith.

Cherokee Bluff cut into the Eagles’ lead in the third quarter, and the fourth quarter was back-and-fourth, with the Bears pulling out a six-point win.

“The one thing we have to learn is to finish games, and that comes with time and experience,” Smith said.

Smith called the matchup a “great early game with a playoff feel and environment to it.”

Rakestraw led the team with 24 points and five rebounds.

East Jackson returns to action Tuesday (Nov. 19) on the road at Oglethorpe County.


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