Kansas.com

East needs big half to put away West

Published Jan. 4 at 6:44 a.m. | Last updated Jan. 4 at 9:54 a.m.

East coach Ron Allen didn't panic when his team gave up five points in the final seven seconds of the first half Tuesday night.

All momentum at the time seemed to be with West after Jordon Kelly followed teammate Tylee Clark's highlight-reel layup with a steal and buzzer-beating three.

"I was disappointed in how we handled that situation," Allen said. "I wasn't afraid that the game was getting away by any stretch. I was just concerned that we were losing our composure, and for the most part we recovered."

The Aces countered by outscoring West 16-8 in the third quarter, and used 82 percent free-throw shooting to put away a feisty Pioneer squad 62-53 at West.

Senior standout Jalen Love scored 10 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, also going 9 for 9 from the free-throw line.

"My teammates were finding me and I was just knocking shots down tonight," Love said. "I hadn't been making them, or making the free throws. All over break I had been practicing free throws and tonight it paid off."

East began the game on an 11-5 run, but West fought back in the second quarter and eventually took a 24-23 lead with 4:03 left in the half. The teams traded leads before West's five-point run ended the half.

The Aces peaked in midway through the fourth quarter when Love hit a three with 2:54 to play, extending the lead to eight.

A technical foul on Nathan Jackson for hanging on the rim gave West an opportunity to get back into the game with 1:40 left. Turnovers and missed free throws on the ensuing possessions, however, doomed the Pioneers.

"What I didn't like was at the end of the game," West coach Phil Daignault said. "I think we had 14 turnovers in the fourth quarter. If we didn't have that, and a few missed layups and free throws at the end, it might have been a whole different story."

Daylin Thomas was strong in what Daignault considered his team's best performance of the season, finishing with 18 points. Kelly added another 13.

Jackson rounded out East with 16 points, which moved to 6-0 following the win.

"We knew West was upgraded," Allen said. "Their talent level was up, they played hard and they've been competing against everyone. We knew good and well that we were going to have to play our best basketball to come out of here with a win."

East19 12 16 15 — 62 West15 20 8 9 — 53

EAST: Burris 2 0-0 5, Jackson 7 2-2 16, Love 4 9-9 18, Brandon 0 0-0 0, Dennis 4 0-1 9, Hester 2 2-2 4, Nester 0 0-0 0, Griffin 0 0-0 0, Sanders 2 4-4 8, Terrell 1 0-0 2, Totals 21 (4) 14-17 62.

WEST: Hardy 0 0-0 0, Thomas 5 8-11 18, Kelly 4 3-4 13, Wilson 1 3-4 5, Mboob 1 0-0 2, Olberding 0 0-0 0, McCoy 1 0-0 2, Jones 3 0-3 9, Clark 2 0-0 4, Loudermilk 0 0-0 0. Totals 17(5) 14-22 53.