EAST JACKSON followed an efficient third quarter of basketball with a stagnant fourth quarter in a 60-59 road loss to Oconee County Friday. The Eagles squandered a 12-point fourth-quarter lead in the defeat.
Coach Brian Turner said his team simply went stale on both ends of the floor.
“We started standing on defense, and we started standing on offense,” Turner said. “That’s the bottom line.”
East Jackson led 49-37 after three quarters but was burned by Oconee County’s Jalen Bonds, who scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Warrior rally. He finished with 24 points.
The Warriors’ Connor Johnson broke a 56-56 tie with a pair of free throws with 50 seconds left, and Bonds gave Oconee County a two-possession lead, at 60-56, with two more free throws with 22 seconds remaining.
East Jackson managed just four points over the last 5:11 of the game.
“We had no movement,” Turner said of his offense. “When we were moving the ball, we were getting layups. (But) we decided to go stale on offense and stand still, and the only thing bad about it was that we decided to go stale on defense and stand still.”
Things were much different in the third quarter for the Eagles. Tied 27-27 at halftime, East Jackson built a double-digit lead thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from Casey Reed and seven third-quarter points from Sidney Henderson, who paced East Jackson with 17 points. Henderson scored the final four points of the period, getting two easy looks under the basket off assists from Devontae Tuggle and Jarron Davis, to give the Eagles a 12-point advantage.
“We were moving it on offense,” Turner explained of his team’s third-quarter success. “We were getting in the lane. When they were overplaying us, we were backdoor-cutting. They (Oconee) would step up and help and we’d hit Sidney on the weak side for layups.”
But both East Jackson’s offense and defense sputtered in the fourth quarter as Oconee County caught fire. The Warriors used an 8-0 run in the middle of the period to overtake East Jackson, pulling ahead when Chance Peden completed a three-point play with 2:31 left to give the Warriors a 56-55 advantage.
“We kind of went into a shell,” Turner said. “You don’t expect that with a bunch of juniors and seniors.”
East Jackson had two others players reached double figures besides Henderson — Davis (14) and Reed (12).