The Pisgah girls basketball team has once again reached the 20-win mark.
The Class 3A No. 1-ranked and two-time defending state champion Eagles used their full-court press to ignite a fast start and pull away from visiting Class 4A No. 8 North Jackson for a 78-42 victory Monday night in Pisgah.
It’s the sixth straight season the Eagles have won at least 20 games and the 21st time during head coach Carey Ellison’s 24-year tenure.
Pisgah (20-1) bolted to a 34-13 lead after one quarter, turning many of North Jackson’s 10 turnovers into easy baskets. Pisgah led 55-28 at halftime and 73-34 after three quarters.
“With a Monday game, sometimes you’re a little sluggish and don’t do the little things as sharp because you’ve had a couple of days off, but I thought we came out of the blocks pretty well,” Ellison said. “Once we got a few turnovers, got the offense going, we made it tough on them.”
This win was Pisgah’s 32nd straight victory on its home court. Meanwhile, the loss snapped North Jackson’s nine-game winning streak.
Molly Heard finished with 23 points, four assists, five rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots for Pisgah while Kallie Tinker had 20 points, four assists and four steals and Chloe Womack had 19 points and five rebounds. The Eagles also got five points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals from Madison Myers and four points from Kennedy Barron.
Summer Varnum scored 14 points for North Jackson (14-6) while Alexis Moore netted nine, Sarah Morgan six and Tyra Smith five.
• North Jackson clinched the Class 4A Area 14 regular-season championship on Monday thanks to Randolph’s 41-19 loss to DAR. The Chiefs, who are 3-0 in area play and finish area play against Randolph on Friday, will host next month’s area tournament. Because it is a three-team area, North Jackson receives a bye to the area tournament finals and is guaranteed a sub-regional berth.
North Jackson 81, Pisgah 64 — At Pisgah, North Jackson set the tone early with its pressure defense on the way to giving head coach Zac Barringer his first win over his alma mater in the gym where he played high school basketball.
North Jackson (13-7) turned nine first-quarter Pisgah turnovers into a lead that never dipped below double digits over the final three quarters.
“We were able to make some easy baskets so we didn’t feel so tight having to score every possession in the half court,” Barringer said. “It took the pressure off a little and we were able to get into a rhythm and make a few outside shots, something we struggled to do after Christmas. We have put an emphasis on our bench energy, and after having some younger guys step up over on the bench, the energy has been fun.”
North Jackson pushed its lead to 42-27 at halftime and led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter before carrying a 67-47 lead into the final period.
Five Chiefs scored in double figures, led by Eli Gill’s 18 points. North Jackson also got 15 points from Tyrus Jackson, 14 from Brady Cunningham, 13 from Carter Gass, 12 from Zeke Ballard and five from Trayvon Nicholson.
Jared Wilks scored 17 points and Tyler Bell netted 12 for Pisgah (6-14) while Zac Cornelison had nine, Austin Brown eight, Rhyan Barrett seven, Austin Brunk six and Austin Thornhill five.
The teams meet again Tuesday (Jan. 21) at 6 p.m. at Pisgah in the Jackson County Tournament quarterfinals.