East rolls after first-half struggles
Before East’s home game against Bishop Carroll on Tuesday night, coach Joe Jackson decided to let his players don throwback warm-up tops.
Then the Blue Aces played such an uninspired half of basketball, Jackson said it was almost a disgrace to the championship tradition associated with those tops. At halftime, Jackson informed his players how much and how long they would be running in practice the next day if the intensity didn’t increase.
That was all it took to snap the Blue Aces out of their funk and inspire a 56-47 victory over Carroll to improve to 2-0.
“He said a lot of things that we didn’t want to do,” East’s Zach Jackson said of his coach’s halftime speech. “We don’t like to run, so we had to come out hard.”
After Carroll had lulled East through the first half, it actually took a 25-23 lead early in the third quarter. The next four minutes were frantic.
East picked up its pressure on defense, forced Carroll into six turnovers in the third quarter, and reeled off a decisive 14-2 run to take a 37-27 lead. The lead never dropped below seven and reached as high as 18 in the fourth quarter.
“A lot of our guys have not competed at this level for 32 minutes,” Carroll coach Lonnie Lollar said. “Right now we don’t have a lot of room for error, and some of those errors started to multiply in the third quarter.”
The highlight for East was the improved play of 6-foot-5 sophomore Xavier Kelly in the post. He finished with a team-high 14 points, and scored eight of them on the big third-quarter run.
Many of Kelly’s points came when East quickly reversed the ball around the perimeter and he held his seal on the defender long enough for the entry pass to lead him to the basket for an uncontested layup.
“I had to make sure I kept them posted up,” said Kelly, who is playing his first year of varsity. “The biggest thing for me is that I have to make sure I call for the ball and let the guy with the ball know, so I have his attention.”
Carroll was never able to threaten in the fourth quarter, but Lollar was pleased with the spark it found in sophomore guard Patrick Carney, who finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
Carroll also had key contributions from Connor Evans (seven points, five assists, three steals) and Brett Bell (six points, 10 rebounds).
East was led by a balanced scoring attack featuring Kelly, Traevon McGarity (14 points, six rebounds), and Zach Jackson (12 points, five steals). Tyas Martin added six assists.
CARROLL: Evans 0 7-11 7, Carney 7 2-2 18, Hohl 0 0-0 0, Price 3 0-0 7, Bell 3 0-3 6, Wilbert 0 0-0 0, Benoit 2 0-1 4, Scharping 1 1-2 3, Demel 0 0-0 0, Goodman 0 2-2 2, Thulstrup 0 0-0 0, Dulac 0 0-0 0.
EAST: Caw 0 0-0 0, Martin 2 0-2 4, Jackson 5 2-4 12, McGarity 4 6-8 14, X. Kelly 7 0-2 14, Champion 1 2-2 4, Fralin 3 0-1 6, Edwards 0 2-2 2, Mutazammil 0 0-0 0, Hartley 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, O’Day 0 0-0 0.