A ROUGH two-minute stretch in the third quarter Tuesday kept East Jackson winless on the year.
The Eagle basketball team (0-2) led Apalachee 41-39 with 2:03 left in the period before the Wildcats ended the quarter with a 12-0 run and went on to win 61-51.
Coach Brian Turner called it “about a three-minute span where we mentally lost everything.”
“That little spot right there in the third quarter, we gave up too many easy baskets and on the other end, we weren’t getting any shots at the basket,” the coach said.
Nathan Crumley led East Jackson with 11 points, followed by Casey Reed (nine), Jarron Davis (eight) and Trent Dowdy (seven).
Playing an up-tempo, pressing brand of basketball, the Eagles ran out to a 36-34 halftime lead on the much larger Wildcats. Turner thought his team handled Apalachee’s size fairly well. It just made too many costly miscues, pointing again to the third quarter.
“Bottom line, we can’t have those mental lapses, but I think from last week to this week, we made a lot of positive steps,” he said.
Prior to the Apalachee game, senior John Heu paced East Jackson with 15 points in last Tuesday’s season opener but it wasn’t enough to lead the Eagles past Hebron Christian Academy on a cold offensive night. East Jackson fell 56-42 on the road to the Class A private school as the Eagles struggled to find their shooting touch.
“We missed a ton of easy shots, layups,” Turner said. “We missed a lot of outside shots.”
East Jackson was 2-for-15 from beyond the three-point arc and nearly as cold from other parts of the floor.
“The large majority of our shots were open looks, penetrating layups that should have been easy baskets and we weren’t finishing them,” Turner said. “That’s something that we can’t do and expect to be successful by any means basically as challenged as we are vertically sometimes with our height.”
Heu — a point-guard turned wing turned power forward — scored seven points in the first quarter but the Eagles trailed 10-8. A bucket from Heu at the 3:57 mark in the second quarter gave East Jackson an 18-15 lead.
“He’s played basically how he has practiced,” said Turner of Heu, who noted that the senior has always had talent. “His practices have been good. He did well in the scrimmage.”
But Hebron closed the half with an 11-2 run and the Eagles trailed the rest of the night. Hebron enjoyed a double-digit lead for much of the second half as the Lions won their season opener after going 5-21 last year.
Heu was the only East Jackson player in double figures. Tyre Rakestraw added seven points, including a three-pointer with five minutes left to go into the game to cut Hebron’s lead to 46-39 before the Lions went on a 7-2 run.
Given the Eagles’ struggles offensively — especially with high percentage shots —East Jackson went back to some basics in practice. The first 45 minutes of Friday’s workout consisted of nothing but layup drills. The Eagles also made sure to get in a lot of shooting.
“Maybe we spent so much of our time on fundamentals and everything else, that we haven’t been putting up enough shots,” Turner said. “Maybe we kind overlooked that. So we made sure we got up plenty of shots on Friday at our practice.”
But Turner believes this team will come around.
“I think and I hope that this is what’s going to happen: I think that this team somewhere through this season, it’s going to click with them, and you’ll see a drastic change in how we play early compared to how we play later on in the season,” Turner said. “I think a lot of that is because of our youth. It think the more experience we get, the better this team is going to get.”