BROOKLET — Don’t look now, but the girls of Southeast Bulloch are on a tear. And after a few down years, they’re looking to keep the good times rolling.
The Lady Yellow Jackets (5-11, 1-3 Region 3-AA) got the season off to a rocky start, but last week saw them catch fire as SEB notched a region win over Jefferson County before polishing of Portal and Metter on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
"I think that it has a lot to do with attitude," said SEB coach Ryan Lewis. "At the beginning of the week, I told the girls that we had three games that I thought we could win. The atmosphere at practice was good and we came out playing hard in all of our games. It shows that we have some good talent when we put it all together."
SEB has gotten the job done just about every way possible.
The Jackets hung tough against Jefferson County last Tuesday, trailing for a good portion of the game before staging a fourth quarter comeback and snatching away the win in the game’s final seconds.
Friday night, SEB plowed through the Lady Panthers and Saturday saw the Jackets take an early lead and then fend off a pesky Metter squad.
"Those wins really helped us out," said senior forward Hannah Denmark. "We’ve been working hard all season and to be able to put a few good games together helps a lot with our confidence."
Confidence and team cohesion are two important elements for a Lady Jacket squad that is still among the youngest in the region.
Seven of the 10 girls that regularly see playing time for the varsity squad are either freshmen or sophomores, but the young team has shaken off its early struggles and has improved with each passing week.
"Maturity is a big factor to winning," said Lewis. "That’s tough when you have such a young team, but we keep learning and giving a good effort. They’re coming around a little and last week started to show that."
Another sign of the Jackets’ growth is evident in how they have adjusted to their opponents once they have seen what they’re up against.
SEB needed all four quarters — and some tense moments late in games — to come away with wins over Portal and Metter earlier in the season. Last week, the Jackets imposed their will much more easily and controlled both games from the onset.
"I told them that even though we had won before, I thought they could do better," said Lewis. "We pressed not letting up and taking control in last week’s games and our girls did just that."
Tonight, the Jackets jump back into region play as they host Swainsboro.
The Lady Tigers took care of business in their home win over SEB January 7, but the Jackets are looking to use their recent success to try and turn the tables.
"We’ve been getting better all year," said Denmark. "This will be the second time we’ve seen (Swainsboro) so hopefully we’ll be a little bit more prepared. We came out better the second time against Metter and Portal, so we have to take the same mentality into this week."
Lewis — who thought he was being bold in predicting his team’s success last week — now wants his team to keep the momentum flowing.
"I told the team that I was proud of them for winning those games like I thought we could," said Lewis. "But then I told them that it shouldn’t be any reason to let up. We played well, so we need to keep it up. There’s no reason we can’t make this streak four in a row or even more."
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.