East basketball: New coach, same plans for Blue Aces boys
Coach: Joe Jackson, first season
Last season: 15-7
Coach: James Cole, fifth season
Last season: 11-11
When Ron Allen retired in March as East coach, he finished as the City Leagues second-winningest coach with 301 wins. He won 280 games, and two Class 6A titles, at East.
First-year coach Joe Jackson plans to continue that rich tradition.
Theres been a lot of tradition at East over the years, Jackson said, and were not trying to change anything as far as thats concerned. We have high expectations and we want to come out and win games.
Point guard DeShawn Terrell, a 5-foot-8 senior, is the Aces only returning starter and Jackson expects him to be more of a vocal leader.
Hes a true point guard, Jackson said. Hes not a score-first type of kid. He has the ability to score and hes got good quickness, the ability to get past his man. But hes a solid all-around guard, and hes looking to distribute before he looks to score.
Hes got plenty of players to get to the ball to, especially inside with JJ Normore (6-6), Luke Nespor (6-7) and Jordan Hester (6-3).
Well get scoring from our bigs and we have a lot of balance there, Jackson said. Most importantly is defensive rebounding. If we can lock down the paint and get every rebound, we can be in a good situation in a lot of games. If we cant, thats how teams get beat, giving up easy rebounds.
Other players who could have an impact inside are Nick Griffin (6-3) and Tyas Martin, who Jackson hopes to have back in January. Martin suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Sophomore guard Samajae Jones will also be a factor. He played as a freshman and has the ability to cause problems for opponents.
People cant give him a cushion because he can pull up or give a shot fake to get by people, Jackson said. He creates and he has a solid shot. Were still working on the defensive end with him, but I think hes going to be a solid defender.
As disappointed as the East girls were after losing to eventual Class 6A champion Heights in the sub-state final in March, they knew the future was bright.
East returns starters Relina Johnson, Tori Spann and Raven Baldwin, and all but 10 points per game.
I think were ready to make a move and surprise some people, coach James Cole said. Ive always said that we have the same athletes as the schools up there, sometimes more athletic, but we need to learn to be disciplined like Carroll and Kapaun. Now we have kids who have been in the program for four years and we can establish that discipline.
Johnson, a senior, has consistently improved since she showed her pure jump shot as a freshman. Extremely athletic, she is an all-around player with the ability to shoot from three and drive inside. She averaged a team-high 18.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals.
She provides matchup problems, whether she posts up a smaller guard or forces a bigger player to guard her on the perimeter.
Shes also unselfish, which means opponents cannot focus solely on her. Spann can drive inside where shes frequently fouled, and Kimirra Lee, a 5-foot-7 junior, is deadly with her pull-up jump shot.
As strong as the guard play is, though, East lacks depth inside and has little height Raven Baldwin and Jade Carranza are each 5-foot-10. Eileen Vlamis is a tough forward at 5-8 whos willing to take charges.
My biggest concern is can we play enough defense inside the post to stop people that can go in to their bigs, Cole said. The height inside is a concern. Well try to pressure on the perimeter to compensate for that lack of size.
But theyre all scrappy. Everything we do is about being scrapping, being tough, even though were undersized.
November Friday, at Kapaun.
December 4, at Carroll; 7, North; 11, at Heights; 14, at Northwest; 20, West.
January 5, Salina South at Koch Arena; 11, at South; 15, at Southeast (G); 17-19, at Topeka West tournament (B); 22, at Southeast (B); 24-26, at El Dorado tournament (G); 29, Kapaun.
February 1, Carroll; 5, at North; 8, Heights; 9, Northwest; 12, at West; 19, South; 21, Southeast.