Kayla Thomas accounted for six treys — five of them coming in the second half — to pace the Lady Eagles with 20 points while Kelsey Palette hit four threes and finished with 12 points.
“That’s never happened for us — not since I’ve been here,” East Jackson coach Katie David said of the 12 threes.
Adding to the three-point total were Taylor Patrick, who hit one three and finished with 13 points, and Taylor Beatty, who also hit one three. She finished with three points.
With Commerce playing a zone defense, the three-point opportunities were there for the taking for East Jackson, which responded with a breakout performance in the second meeting this season of these neighboring schools.
“We’re seeing so much zone or tend to see a lot of zone because we haven’t been able to shoot out of it in the past,” David said. “It’s obviously something we’ve been working on.”
Thomas recovered from a 1-for-9 shooting performance to put on a second-half show.
She gave the Lady Eagles a 32-21 lead with her first three-pointer of the third quarter, then ran East Jackson’s lead out to 38-23 with back-to-back three-pointers around the five-minute mark in the period.
Thomas cracked two more threes in the third quarter and then another early in the fourth to put East Jackson up comfortably, 55-29, with 6:29 left in the game.
“She stuck with it,” David said. “She was 1-for-9 in the first half from the three-point line … and then I think she made five straight.”
Bridgett Barnett and Lily Mather led Commerce with eight points each. Erica Greene finished with seven.
The contest was actually close early on.
East Jackson led 11-9 at the end of the quarter, but Commerce took a 17-15 lead midway through the second quarter on the strength of two three-pointers from Barnett.
But East Jackson closed the half with a 12-0 run to take a 27-17 lead into the locker room. The Lady Eagles’ last six points of the half came via three pointers from Thomas and Palette in the final minute. Palette hit three of her four three-pointers in the first half.
“Kelsey has just been consistent the entire tournament,” David said. “She’s been our go-to girl.”
Commerce got early third-quarter buckets from Hannah Davis and Mather to cut East Jackson’s lead to 29-21 briefly, but the Lady Eagles’ sharp perimeter shooting took over from there.
“The three-point shooting, yeah, most definitely, especially when we’re seeing those zones, we’ve got to be able to make them,” David said.
With the win, East Jackson finished the tournament 1-2.
The Lady Eagles got burned by the three-pointer the previous day (Thursday) with Sequoyah stroking 10 threes to hand East Jackson a 54-30 loss.
Palette paced the Lady Eagles with 15 points, accounting for half of the team’s offense.
East Jackson opened the tournament last Wednesday with a tough loss, falling to Hancock Central 33-32. The Lady Eagles missed two free throws with 11 seconds left and then two shots under the basket in the final seconds.
Palette led the team with 12 points. Patrick added nine points.