East beats Southeast 66-50 to remain unbeaten
Put East sophomore Xavier Kelly on the football field, and hes a force at defensive end. At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Aces football coach Brian Byers said he was a beast.
Put Kelly on a basketball court and thats when his control over his body becomes especially clear as he dominates the lane with rebounds and a special affinity for blocked shots.
Kelly had four blocked shots as East improved to 9-0 with a 66-50 win over visiting Southeast, while East junior Isaac Fralin added three blocks.
Anytime youve got someone like Xavier in the middle he blocked five, six shots tonight and probably had some more but they called him on a couple bumps when he blocked the shots, too, East coach Joe Jackson said. I think it played into the minds of (Southeast).
You have to have a knack for the ball, and it definitely doesnt hurt if youve got a 34, 35-inch vertical. That definitely is beneficial.
Kelly, a quiet type, allowed himself a smile when he said he has a 33-inch vertical.
The art of blocking is simple, according to Kelly and Fralin.
When you drive into me, Kelly said, I cant go into them. I have to separate and create space and jump, straight up.
Fralin said its all about rotating.
Its about sliding when they drive, he said. Coach talks a lot about where to go, where to be. Its all rotation. Rotate and jump. The ball is there. Block it.
Easts ability to block and alter shots was vital because Southeast is a team that loves to drive to the basket. And in the first half, Southeast shot 5 of 28 from the field.
We missed 11 layups under the basket, said Southeast coach Melvin Herring, whose team is 6-3 and has lost two straight. I dont know if its the contact. I think its more mental.
Southeast also shot 8 of 18 free throws through the first three quarters.
While Southeasts offense sputtered, East roared through the first half, hitting 14 of 26 shots, including 3 of 6 from three-point range.
Defense was incredible for us, said East junior Samajae Jones, who finished with a game-high 21 points. Locking down (Southeast sophomore) Jerrick Harding was important for us, and we came out offensively real good. Rebound it and get it out.
Harding scored 10, while the Buffaloes were led by Jordan Murdocks 17 points.
Despite Easts leads of 19 at the half and 16 after three, Southeast took advantage of 11 second-half turnovers by East and also started scoring.
Jerrick Hardings driving layup 38 seconds into the fourth quarter started Southeasts 11-0 run to get within 48-43 with 5:28 to go.
Jackson burned two timeouts over about 1 1/2 minutes, trying to save possessions as East turned it over five times in two minutes.
We got out, we put pressure on the ball, we gave weak-side help, Herring said.
As for East, Jackson said, We went through a little series where we just really panicked. We turned it over, we let them get back in it.
Jones scored Easts first basket of the fourth period when he hit a jumper with 3:30 to go, was fouled and made the free throw.
Murdock answered with two free throws to get back within six, but East went on a 10-3 run to ice the game.
When you go that hard in a quarter, and we went so hard, the legs dont last so long, Herring said. Im proud of the kids.
Easts run was capped with 28 seconds to go on a powerful block by Kelly, who leaped into the air and smacked the basketball all the way down to the Aces side of the court. Teammate Tyas Martin tracked it down and scored on the break.
Coming out with defense, and if you lose, you have (Kelly) changing the shot up, Jones said.
Martin and Zach Jackson each had 14 points.
Southeast Harding 10, Murdock 17, Payne 6, Garnes 7, Loudermilk 5, Ruffin 2, Love 3.
East Jackson 14, McGairty 2, Kelly 8, Jones 21, Martin 14, Fralin 5, Mutazammil 2.
Joanna Chadwick's recap
East's Isaac Fralin
East's Samajae Jones
East's Xavier Kelly
East coach Joe Jackson
East's student section
Southeast's student section