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East’s Samajae Jones dunks in the second quarter Tuesday at Kapaun Mount Carmel. Marc Browning/ The Wichita Eagle | Buy this photo

East starts fast, holds off Kapaun

Published Jan. 28 at 10:55 p.m. | Last updated Jan. 29 at 9:34 a.m.

The East boys needed an aggressive, intense response to suffering their first loss on Saturday in the title game of the Dodge City tourney.

And, oh, the Aces come out in phenomenal fashion Tuesday night at Kapaun, shooting 17 of 28 from the floor in the first half and 6 of 7 from three-point range as they built a 19-point lead.

“We were focused after that loss (to Hays),” Kapaun junior Zach Jackson said. “That loss woke us up. We were ready to come out and go at Kapaun. That’s what we needed in the first half.”

Unfortunately for East, it only lasted for a half as the Aces needed six free throws from Jackson in the final 1:07 to beat Kapaun 59-49.

Jackson finished with a game-high 21 points, hitting 8 of 8 from the free-throw line and 3 of 4 from three-point range.

But the first half, it was special.

“One of the things we told the guys, it was going to be a test if we could bounce back after taking a tough loss at the (Tournament of Champions),” East coach Joe Jackson said of his team that improved to 12-1, 9-0 in the City League. “We came out with some intensity, some passion, playing together.”

East had a 12-0 lead before Kapaun finally scored 4:35 into the game.

In the second quarter, there was a two-minute stretch when junior Samajae Jones hit a three, then Zach Jackson hit a three, Jones dunked after he got a steal and then hit a three for an 11-0 run and a 34-14 lead at the 3:56 mark of the period.

“At the three-point line, they shot 68 percent,” Kapaun coach John Cherne said. “There’s not much you can do. You’re trying to close out, trying to contest.… Defending the three is very hard to do, and they did a really good job of hitting shots.”

After Jones’ dunk, Kapaun called timeout and the Aces surrounded Jones, who had 15 points at half, hitting 3 of 3 three-pointers, pushing him in jubilation. He finished with 17.

An East assistant coach noted, “Hey, we haven’t won this game, yet.”

At the time, it seemed to be one of those throw-away comments coaches have to make when a team is up by 20. But it was true.

East made one field goal in each of the final two quarters, shooting 2 of 14, including 0 of 4 from three.

Joe Jackson noted a failure to pass the ball as well to find the open teammate.

“The ball kind of would stick,” he said. “We’d reverse it a time or two, the ball would stick. Their zone shouldn’t have caused us that much problem. Credit them, they slowed us down a little bit. We started rushing some shots early and not playing the type of game we wanted to play.”

Kapaun hit its free throws, making 16 of 18 in the second half and getting within four points twice in the final 2:40 after free throws by Mitchell Sheets and Brock Monty. Sheets finished with a team-high 14 points, making 9 of 10 free throws. Monty had 12 points, hitting 8 of 8 at the line.

“Our offense was just clicking tonight in the first half,” Jackson said. “As much as it clicked in the first half, it was kind of a letdown in the second half, kind of like we took the foot off the pedal a little bit.

“We have to work on playing 32 minutes.”

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Kapaun1012151249

East: Jackson 21, Kelly 12, McGairty 5, Jones 17, Martin 2, Fralin 2.

Kapaun: O’Connor 9, Monty 12, Auer 2, Cherne 6, Sheets 14, Lickteig 6.

East's Zach Jackson

East coach Joe Jackson

Kapaun fans

Kapaun coach John Cherne