ROLLINS

East Jackson's Haven Rollins guards an Oconee County player Friday (Jan. 8) in the Eagles' 51-34 win over the Warriors in their region opener. 

The East Jackson girls’ basketball team locked down its last three non-region opponents — surrendering fewer than 40 points a contest in those games — and that defensive stinginess continued with the start of region play.

After giving up 16 first-quarter points, the East Jackson girls’ basketball team surrendered just 18 points the rest of the way in a 51-34 home win Friday (Jan. 8) over Oconee County. 

The Eagles are now 5-1 with five-straight victories. The 34 points surrendered were a season-low.

One of the biggest differences over the course of the night came at the 3-point line. The Eagles gave up four 3-pointers in the first quarter but allowed just one Oconee County 3-pointer over the final three quarters.

As for East Jackson’s offense, Antonia Pittman sparked that with 17 points, followed by Maurissa Thomas, who had 10 points.

East Jackson, which played without head coach Cherrelle Pullen (quarantine), trailed 16-14 after a quarter, but Thomas’s free-throw line jumper with eight seconds remaining in the second quarter gave the Eagles a 21-20 edge heading into half time.

East Jackson trailed briefly at the start of the third quarter, but Kenzie Whitehead tied the game 25-25 with a layup at the 6:39 mark in the period. The Eagles took the lead for good with 2:09 remaining in the period during a sequence in which Whitehead drove for lose ball headed out of bounds near the half-court line and batted the ball to Pittman, who drove to the basket, scored and was fouled. She then sank the free throw to complete the 3-point play and put East Jackson ahead 32-29.

Meanwhile, points were hard for Oconee County to muster.

The Eagles allowed just three points over a 9:51 stretch that spanned parts of the third and fourth quarters, allowing East Jackson to build a 45-32 lead with less than a minute and a half remaining.

East Jackson then went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 1:17 to cap off the win.

The Eagles return to action next Friday (Jan. 15, 7 p.m.) at home against region opponent Hart County.

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