Lady Eagles won't be flying under radar for long

Lillian Burnett practices her shots with guidance from head coach Trevor Jackson during an after school practice.

There are often talented high school basketball teams that fly under the radar. That’s been the case for the Lady Eagles of Christian Fellowship in the First Region this season.

With a record of 9-9, the fountain of youth that pours from head coach Trevor Jackson’s young team is only getting started. This season, Gracie Howard recorded her 1,000 high school career point – as a freshman – while sophomore Lillian Burnett set the school’s single game point record with a 36-point outing.

“I’m very excited about where we’re at right now,” Jackson said. “I know a lot of people say you’re 9-9, but the growth that we’ve seen from the beginning of the year to now, especially in the last two weeks, is just tremendous.”

In the last five games, the Lady Eagles have gone 4-1 with their only loss to Ballard Memorial in overtime on Feb. 20. Despite the loss, the Lady Eagles featured a trio of double-doubles from Burnett, Howard, and Jayden Jackson. Along with Burnett’s double-double, she set the single game point record for Christian Fellowship the same night.

“Take Lily for example. She never played basketball until she was in sixth grade. Now she’s 16 points a game and recording 9.4 rebounds per game,” Jackson added.

Burnett admitted she never expected to accomplish such a feat. “It felt really cool. You know, you never really see yourself doing something like that and it’s pretty cool when you are able to do it,” she said. “I wasn’t really expecting anything like that to happen.”

Currently, Burnett is second on the team in total points (276), recording 16.2 per game. Along with her high numbers for the season, she leads her team with 160 rebounds. As her skill set and knowledge of the game continue to grow, her height and natural talent on defense will only assist in Christian Fellowship’s program excelling.

Jayden Jackson and Burnett shared that the game was a highlight on the season.

“I think my favorite moment so far had to be the Ballard game. It was really fun, and we had all played really hard to try and win,” Burnett said.

“It was really cool that three of us were able to do what we did in that game,” Jayden said. “We’ve definitely grown together as team because we’ve played together since fifth and sixth grade. The Ballard game, along with Gracie recording her 1,000th point, were my favorite moments.”

Howard, who recorded her 1,000th high school career point back in January and leads her team in points (399), is simply happy with how the Lady Eagles are producing this season. The freshman standout has made 137 field goals, recording 7.6 per game with 30 3-pointers made.

“We had a really good night against Ballard and I think our team played really hard.” Howard added during a break in practice last week.

Coach Jackson looks toward the future with his young talent that continues to improve with every practice and game. With no upperclassmen on the team, the oldest group on the team are only sophomores.

“They’re all starting to understand the game of basketball a little more; things that we weren’t doing in the beginning like rebounding, running the floor, and falling off scores. Those were really things we wanted to work on,” he said. “Our points per game have been going up quite a bit. We’re getting the ball out better. We’re getting our second, third and fourth shots on offense. And we’re only giving our opponents only one to two shots on the defensive end, something we’re been working on.”

A group that has been together since fifth and sixth grade, the chemistry amongst the girls is undeniable. The age old saying, “There is no I in team,” rings true for the Lady Eagles.

“They have been so much fun to watch the last couple weeks and they are all so unselfish. They’ve always been this way – playing multiple sports together such as volleyball, basketball, and softball. They don’t even care who gets the accolades and it shows more and more,” Jackson stated. “It’s just so refreshing to see in today’s day and age. A lot of kids tout about how great they are, but these kids are so humble. I truly don’t think they have any idea what the next two years could bring for them.”

And he’s right. If the Lady Eagles remain on this path, by the time the oldest group of girls are seniors, they could be a dominating factor in the First Region. Not only does Jackson give his top scorers acknowledgement, but he also knows every single girl on the team plays role in each victory.

“Take Rhema Howard, she’s Gracie’s big sister and a sophomore. She’s played since seventh grade but never really had a huge opportunity to play on the varsity level prior to this season,” Jackson said, acknowledging the older Howard’s pivotal role on the court. “In the last two weeks, I told her that her game is down on those blocks. She didn’t score during Dawson Springs’ game (Feb. 22) but had 13 rebounds; five of which came offensively. We’re getting to see her start to do incredible things that she wasn’t doing in January.”

Of course, Coach Jackson shares a bond with the star point guard for the Lady Eagles. As the father to Jayden, the joy of seeing his child on the court with a smile on her face is one of the most fulfilling accomplishments of the season.

“You look at Jayden, my daughter. She’s running the point and could probably score even more, and I want her to score but man, she finds so much joy out of the assist. She’s recording about six assists per game,” he said. “I’ve got to get her turnovers down to less than three, which is still not exactly where I want it to be, but you know, she just became a point guard last year and I’m real proud of her.”

A sophomore, Jayden currently sits with 115 points this season and continues to be a key role in the Lady Eagles’ energy on the court. Jackson is second best in free throws this season with 41 successful shots. On rebounds, she has 94 so far.

“It’s a very good dynamic between us. He pushes me a lot, but he remains fair and doesn’t show any type of favoritism,” Jayden said of her dad/coach. “We’ve definitely learned how to balance it with him being my coach.”

Despite the success of the season, the Lady Eagles are still cool as cucumbers and continuing to grow. Jackson, who has been stopped by other coaches in the region, knows what he has in front of him is a great thing.

“You know, I have had coaches in the region tell that I have a good thing going and to keep these kids in the program,” he recalled. “I’ve been telling the kids that, and they are still so, so humble. They are not overconfident, but I think they’re starting to see, hey, we can compete too.”