The East Jackson girls' basketball team had a chance to beat Morgan County at the end, but coach Cherrelle Pullen wished her team had warmed up a little bit sooner.
A deep 3-point attempt at the buzzer from Destiny Rakestraw missed as the Eagles’ six-game winning streak was snapped with a 45-42 home loss Tuesday (Dec. 10) to the Bulldogs. East Jackson trailed by 10 points at the half.
“I feel that we came out a little sluggish, and we waited until the last minute to really play our game,” Pullen said.
Antonia Pittman led East Jackson with 13 points, four steals and three rebounds. Yasmine Clark added 10 points, five steals and two boards. The Eagles (7-3, 1-1 Region 8-AAA) will look back on 24 missed free throws (14-for-38) and wonder what could have been.
“Like I’ve said before, free throws have been our Achilles heel, as well as layups,” Pullen said. “This is one of those games where it goes to show why free throws are important throughout the entire game. Not just one quarter, but throughout the entire game. We’ve definitely got to make them when we’re tired.”
East Jackson trailed 27-17 at the half, but surged ahead with a third-quarter run. Clark hit a driving layup at the 2:29 mark to put the Eagles up 35-34.
Pullen told to her team coming out of the halftime locker room not to settle for jump shots and to penetrate the Bulldogs’ defense.
“Which we weren’t hitting anything (in the) first half,” Pullen said. “So, once they committed to doing that, it just worked.”
But East Jackson didn’t score for the next 7:27 after Clark’s bucket, which allowed Morgan County to pull back ahead, 43-35. Haven Rollins ended the scoring drought with a three-pointer at the 3:02 mark.
The Eagles later trailed 45-40 with 40 seconds left when Clark sank a long jumper to cut the lead to 45-42. East Jackson fouled Morgan County’s Kourtney Elder with 11 second remaining. Elder missed both free throws, giving East Jackson a chance to tie the game.
After calling time out with four ticks remaining, the Eagles came out of a timeout, but couldn’t get a good look on the final 3-point attempt as Rakestraw heaved a deep shot which rolled off the rim as time expired.
East Jackson will host Hart County Friday at 7 p.m. as region play continues.
“I’m still feeling good and confident and encouraged about the team,” Pullen said. “I feel like this is maybe one of those blessings in disguise where it will humble us. The whole word this week has been ‘complacency.’ And I definitely feel like we’ve been getting to a place of being complacent in doing what we feel like works, but it just goes to show how we need to capitalize on things — such as free throws more and layups.”