There might have been some added motivation for East to do well Tuesday night.
The Blue Aces put together a strong effort with former coach Ron Allen in the stands, cruising to a 33-18 halftime lead and rolling to a 70-42 City League victory over visiting South.
Allen, the longtime East coach who retired two years ago, saw a Blue Aces attack that was pretty much relentless, as East outscored South by at least five points in each quarter.
“The kids always want to play good in front of Coach Allen,” said current East coach Joe Jackson, who succeeded Allen. “We tried to really get after it, and it’s always nice to have coach Allen come out and check out a ballgame. He’s meant so much to me and to this team.”
Senior Traevon McGairty led the Blue Aces (8-0) with 18 points, but 11 of the 14 East players who suited up scored.
“That’s one of our big advantages right now,” Jackson said. “Our guys are playing so well together. We’ve got pretty solid team chemistry, and we didn’t have a whole lot of fall-off when we subbed (Tuesday night).”
Unselfish play was also a hallmark of the East attack. The Blue Aces’ first points were scored by sophomore Xavier Kelly on an alley-oop dunk off a McGairty pass. In the second quarter, junior Zach Jackson set up senior Tyas Martin for a lay-in that was sandwiched between McGairty three-pointers.
Joe Jackson said he liked how the Blue Aces were sharing the ball.
“We’ve had a different scoring leader in many games this season,” he said. “So that’s one thing that makes us a tough scout for people.”
Turnovers – six in the first quarter – hurt South and helped East to a 15-10 lead.
“We really tried to turn up our defense, and I think we executed well for a little while,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, we got ourselves in foul trouble (seven fouls in the period) early, and that’s something we’ve been trying to avoid.”
South did get a bit of a spark from senior post Jordan Moore, who muscled inside in the second half and scored 14 of his 18 points.
First-year South coach Charles Gunter said the Titans need to emphasize defense more.
“Overall, we don’t have enough kids making defense a priority,” he said. “We’ve got to turn the page. I could be mad for a whole month, but we’ve got to turn the page and get ready for the second half of the season after the midseason tournament.”
SOUTH – Lee 4, Gunter 6, Griffin 5, Moore 18, Brown 3, Adkins 2, Hudspeth 1, Harris 3.
EAST – Mutazammil 2, Johnson 2, Martin 9, O’Day 2, Champion 2, Jackson 8, Kelly 7, Hartley 4, Jones 7, Fralin 9, McGairty 18.