TOPEKA – Wichita East went into Thursday night’s Topeka Invitational first-round game against Topeka West as a heavy favorite.
The key for the Aces, second-ranked in Class 6A, was to make sure Topeka West knew that and East accomplished that goal early, scoring the first 14 points and leading 24-4 after the first quarter on the way to an 80-42 romp at Highland Park.
“That was a point of emphasis in pre-game, when we talked before the game,’’ East coach Joe Jackson said of the importance of a quick start. “We didn’t want to come in here after a couple hours on the road, with the legs a little stiff and everything else, and come out and play flat.
“I really thought the guys did a good job of getting loose and getting involved. We didn’t really have the best warmup before the game and I was a little concerned. We talked about that when we came in, but the guys came out focused and defensively our press really got us going.’’
East, which will play Highland Park in a 6:45 p.m. semifinal Friday, had two players in double figures, but 11 players cracked the scoring column.
Samajae Jones, a senior, led East (10-0) with 14 points, while junior Mark Hartley added 10 points. The Aces made 10 three-pointers.
The Aces led 39-18 at the half and took a 59-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
Senior Adrian Aguilar was the only player in double figures for Topeka West (1-9), finishing with 20 points and six 3-pointers.
Lawrence 78, Southeast 74 – Southeast junior guard Jerrick Harding stole the show individually with a 41-point performance, but Lawrence, top-ranked in 6A, rallied from a 12-point deficit to improve to 11-0.
Lawrence, the defending Topeka Invitational champion, offset Harding’s monster night with three players who had 15 points or more.
Senior Anthony Bonner had 24 points while junior Justin Roberts added 20 and junior Anthony Harvey 15 points.
Roberts and Harvey had four three-pointers each for Lawrence, with Harvey hitting two huge back-to-back treys in the third quarter to give the Lions the lead for good.
Harding had 26 points in the first half and finished 12 of 17 from the field and 13 of 18 at the free throw line, while also connecting on four three-pointers.
Junior Milan Brown added 14 points for the Buffaloes, who led by 12 twice in the second quarter before Lawrence cut its halftime deficit to 39-32.
Lawrence outscored Southeast 26-14 in the third quarter and held off the Buffs the rest of the way.
“We talked about it and it was just a lack of discipline,’’ Southeast coach Melvin Herring said. “If we had stuck to our game plan it might have been a different outcome tonight.
“We have some talented kids and we just want to come out and compete at a high level. Southeast has always been a competitive team and we want to continue that.”
W. East: McKinney 7, Jones 14, O’Day 9, E. Kelly 7, Eckels 4, Jackson 9, Z. Fralin 5, X. Kelly 7, Hartley 10, Johnson 2, I. Fralin 6.
T. West: Carr 2, Aguilar 20, Reynolds 8, Newby 3, Smith 3, Steele 4, Tucker 2.
W. Southeast: Harding 41, Cobbins 7, Brown 14, Barber 4, Oyugi 8.
Lawrence: Roberts 20, Morgan 8, Rajewski 5, Bonner 24, Brou 4, Harvey 15, Applegate 2.