By David Bashore
Herald sports reporter
For the past two weeks, Echo girls basketball head coach Jake Bacon bemoaned his team's lack of focus and intensity. After Friday and Saturday, he believes it is no longer an issue.
Rachael Jackson registered double figures in both weekend games, including a 15 point and 11 rebound effort Saturday, as the Lady Cougars got their first two league wins of the season, defeating Central Christian 43-11 Friday and Horizon Christian 39-17 Saturday.
"The girls came ready to play, and there was a lot more intensity and focus," Bacon said after Echo (3-11, 2-4 Big Sky) delivered their most complete performance of the season Saturday in topping Horizon Christian.
Reserves Alyssa Scott and Megan Williams made key contributions in an all-around superbly played contest for the Lady Cougars. Scott scored eight points off the bench, while Williams, a freshman, grabbed six rebounds.
The much improved bench play has not only expanded Bacon's options when fatigue or foul trouble hits, but also has helped create an element of trust within the team.
"The starters know that they can come out of the game for a rest, and that the others won't let it slip," Bacon said. "The reserve players know that they'll be counted on to help contribute, as well."
The score may have been more resounding than their Saturday game, but the Lady Cougars were not overly satisfied with their output despite a clinical win.
Jackson led all scorers with 13 points in the one-sided affair which saw Echo jump out to a 17-3 first quarter lead thanks to a tenacious trap defense, which also held Central Christian off the scoreboard altogether in the second quarter.
While many teams would celebrate a quarter shutout, Echo sat in the locker room at halftime devising ways to improve their execution on both ends of the floor.
"I think it's awesome that the girls can say ?We're doing some things right, but we need to get better,' " Bacon said. "We needed to work on offensive execution, and the girls weren't satisfied with the shutout (in the second quarter)."
Next up for the confidence-laden Lady Cougars is the talented Ione squad, which is a heartbreaking double-overtime loss (to Fossil-Condon) removed from top spot in the Big Sky's East division.
"We know it's going to be tough," Bacon said of making the road trip. "However, the girls are excited to see what they can do."
Echo faces Ione at 5 p.m. this afternoon on the road.