Two of East Jackson’s goals under new coach Cherrelle Pullen are to set a school record for wins and earn the program’s first winning season.
The Eagles are already locking in on one of those milestones.
With a 48-39 win over Franklin County Tuesday (Jan. 14) at home, the East Jackson girls’ team (10-9, 3-4 Region 8-AAA) earned its 10th victory of the year. With six regular season games remaining, the Eagles are one win shy of tying the school record of 11.
“Whatever we can set, as long as we keep pressing forward in the right direction, whatever comes along with it, I’ll be happy,” Pullen said.
Freshman Antonia Pittman sparked Tuesday's victory, accounting for nearly half of East Jackson’s point total with 23 points. Though Pittman is still learning as a young player, she continues to draw praise from her coach for her court presence.
“With her energy, the girls, even the older ones, feed off of it, so it’s good to have her on our side for sure,” Pullen said.
Haven Rollins added 10 points in the win.
East Jackson came through at the free-throw line at the end despite struggles for most of the night. After hitting just 2-of-11 free throws in the first three quarters, the Eagles sank 4-of-6 in crunch time during the fourth quarter to put the game away.
“We’ve been emphasizing free throws and layups, free throws and layups,” Pullen said. “Our motto for the season is you can’t win games or championships without making layups and free throws, so I’m glad that it actually got put to use.”
The Eagles led by as many as 14 points in the first half (25-11) after back-to-back 3-pointers from Pittman late in the second quarter, followed by layups from Destiny Rakestraw and Pittman. East Jackson enjoyed a double-digit edge (37-27) early in the fourth quarter, but found itself clinging to a 42-39 lead with 1:26 left in the game. But Pittman sank 3-of-4 free throws and Jewellee Love split a pair of free throws in the final minute to put the Eagles ahead 46-39. Love closed out the win with a layup in the final seconds.
East Jackson travels to Morgan County Friday (Jan. 17, 6 p.m.) seeking its third-straight region win.