Xavier Kelly was exciting, playing above the rim and bringing the crowd to its feet.
Samajae Jones was electric, waterbugging through Bishop Carroll’s defense and pulling up for long-distance threes.
Zach Jackson was steady, start to finish, putting East on his back whenever the Eagles threatened.
But after the Aces’ 77-54 win over Carroll on Friday night, it wasn’t a case of who did what.
It was all about the how.
“We don’t need to worry about who is scoring what amount of points,” Jackson said. “We can all score. We’re not worried about who is getting the points every night and that’s it.”
Almost everybody got points for East (2-0) against the Eagles in a matchup of two of the City League’s last three unbeaten teams. Carroll managed to hang around for three quarters before the Aces blew the doors off — nine players scored for East, led by Jackson’s 21 points and 15 points from Jones, including four three-pointers.
“You have to credit their defense,” Carroll coach Lonnie Lollar said. “We were 2 of 19 on three-pointers and that’s something we’ve been doing really well this year. We just haven’t seen that type of defense.”
The Aces’ game plan was to wear Carroll down with a full-court press, start to finish.
The plan for Kelly — a 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior committed to play football for Kansas State — was to take it to the rack from the start.
He kept Carroll (3-1) on its heels early with a pair of big, two-handed dunks, getting called for a technical on the first one. The next one, in traffic, came with a foul and he completed the three-point play for a 23-15 lead early in the second quarter.
He also caught a three-point airball from Jones around the top of the square and threw it down, into the hoop, for a basket.
“I was a little excited early, I think we all were, but we settled down,” said Kelly, who finished with nine points. “I thought our bench did a really good job tonight. I thought everybody did something to help us win.”
Carroll closed to within 28-26 by hitting eight straight free throws, but a pair of baskets by senior Isaac Fralin and a jumper by Jackson late sent East into halftime with a 38-26 lead.
“We thought we could eventually wear them out with our depth,” Jackson said. “We felt like the press was going to work for us because we could keep sending guys at them.”
Carroll got within seven points at 41-34 early in the third quarter, but quick, consecutive buckets by Jackson, Kelly and Michael McKinney pushed the lead into double digits and the Eagles never threatened again.
Connor Evans led the Eagles with 19 points, but most of his damage came at the free-throw line — he was 3 of 6 from the floor and 13 of 16 from the free-throw line.
“We know Connor is a great player,” Fralin said. “We knew we had to be physical with him and pay close attention to what he was doing.”
Carroll: Evans 19, Iseman 4, Wilbert 8, Scharping 4, Carney 7, Demel 2, Theis 5, Thome 3, Allen 2.
East: Fralin 7, Kelly 9, Jones 15, Jackson 21, McKinney 4, Eckels 4, Dixon 6, Hartley 8, O’Day 3.