Jackson County has now won four straight games, the last of those wins coming in very unconventional fashion.
The Lady Panthers (11-6, 3-1) beat Oglethorpe County 61-3 Tuesday on the road and that’s no misprint.
In fact, Jackson County nearly shut out the Lady Patriots, who scored their only points with a three-pointer in the second quarter.
Lady Panther coach John Hawley can’t remember another occurrence in his 26-year head coaching career when one of his teams held an opponent to one basket in a ball game.
“I don’t think so,” Hawley said. “That was a first.”
These kinds of scores are actually not out of the ordinary for Oglethorpe County. The Lady Patriots have been held to single digits three other times this season, losing 57-9 and 63-4 to Oconee County and 59-4 to East Jackson.
In Tuesday’s game, Jackson County led 24-0 after one quarter, allowing it to mass substitute early and provide other players significant playing time.
“We played everybody, all 14 kids,” Hawley said.
Freshman Mason Garland led the Lady Panthers with 17 points.
“It was nice to be able to sit back and some of our other kids play,” Hawley said.
Jackson County now moves on to tougher competition. The Lady Panthers face Elbert County at home Friday and East Jackson on the road Tuesday.
Elbert County is coming off a 69-41 victory over East Jackson Tuesday.
“They’re going to press and shoot the ball,” Hawley said, noting that the Lady Blue Devils’ penchant for three-point attempts. “We’ll have to take care of the ball and execute well.”
Against East Jackson, Jackson County will face an in-county rivalry game similar to its Dec. 17 game with Jefferson.
“It’s always good because, like Jefferson, people know each other … It will be another good game for the community,” Hawley said.
Jackson County got some good news recently, welcoming back guard Victoria Fontana — who started some last year as a freshman — from injury.
“We’re glad to have her back and get her back in the mix,” Hawley said. “She’s a good little addition to our club.”
The Lady Panthers’ unusual victory over Oglethorpe County Tuesday came after Jackson County picked up a non-region win five days earlier.
Rebounding from an early second quarter slump, Jackson County beat Stephens County 56-44 last week in a rare Thursday afternoon game.
The Lady Panthers used a 12-3 run to close the first half and lift them to their second victory this season over their former Region 8-AAA foes.
Though Jackson County didn’t deliver the consistent performance that Hawley has been looking for, the team managed to make plays when it had to.
“We had a great run there and we made some good things happen,” Hawley said.
Ashley Skelton led a trio of Lady Panther scores in double figures with 13 points. Bre Drew added 11 and Emily Elrod finished with 10.
Jackson County appeared as if it would run Stephens County out of the building, jumping out to a 19-6 lead over the visiting Lady Indians with 31 seconds left in the first quarter. Stephens County, however, pulled within four points in the second quarter after Jackson County managed just one point in a span of 4:31.
“We came out great … But we just have that lull there where we go back to our bad habits,” Hawley said.
But the Lady Panthers distanced themselves with their run in the last four minutes of the half, sparked by a pair of free throws from Danni Cunningham and buckets from Elrod and Sierra Roncadori. The Lady Panthers led 32-19 at the break.
The second half went much smoother as Jackson County built a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter and was able to empty its bench in the final moments.