Most of the basketball games the Bishop Carroll boys play will have a similar score to the 54-46 win by East on Friday night.
Usually, the low scoring is the result of Carroll's drawn-out possessions, which limit chances for the opposition. That was often the case on Friday, but East's defense had plenty to do with the Eagles' inability to consistently control the tempo.
Carroll stayed in it with three-pointers, but East didn't let the Eagles have many other easy shots. The Aces applied pressure once Carroll crossed halfcourt, an approach that produced many of the Eagles' 27 turnovers. East also held Carroll to 20 second-half points.
"I did not want them to get into a passing rhythm," East coach Ron Allen said. "When they start swinging the ball from one side of the ball to the other, they're looking for a back pick and somebody to break down defensively. We almost gave in a couple times, but we were able to recover and get some help."
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Carroll had a hot start and its lead grew to six by the end of the first quarter. The Eagles were boosted by the slow starts by East guards Jalen Love and Ja'ln Williams, who missed all of their six shots in the first quarter and were 3 of 15 in the first half.
Without much help from their top two scorers, the Aces managed to pull to a 26-26 tie at halftime. Contributions from role players, especially R.J. Melbert, proved crucial. Melbert had a pair of baskets in the second quarter on his way to finishing with seven points and 10 rebounds.
"R.J.' s great on the boards," Williams said. "You see other teams complain about a call — he doesn't worry about that and he gets back and gets on the boards. He helps us a lot."
Williams never heated up, making 4 for 16. He played a big part in East's best offensive stretch, though.
Quicker than the guards defending him, Williams slashed to the lane with ease, and he delivered two assists that helped the Aces take a 40-33 lead near the end of the third quarter. Love was also a catalyst, scoring six points in the third.
Love and Williams are both versatile offensively, so they don't always have to be shooting well for the Aces to succeed.
"Tonight Jalen Love was in a nice groove," Allen said. "He was under control, he was at a nice pace. He stepped into some good shots and had his confidence rolling.
"Had Ja'ln Williams been playing to his capability, productivity-wise, I think we would have been better off. We're always better when we have them both clicking, but as long as we have one person playing smart and the other being productive, we can do some damage like that."
Carroll made a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter to cut East's lead to four and another three-pointer, by Chad Darland, trimmed East's advantage to 44-43 with 2:13 to go in the fourth.
Darland's three was the last basket Carroll made, though. The Eagles managed three free throws during the final two-plus minutes while East stuck to its defense-first strategy. The Aces sealed it on a breakaway dunk by Williams after a steal, a play which made it 52-44 with 15 seconds to go.
"I was pleased with their effort defensively," Allen said. "We got up in the lanes, we stayed in the lanes, we contested most shots.... I was pleased with our effort defensively and on the boards."
East (9-4, 7-2) 8 18 14 14 — 54 Carroll (8-6, 5-5) 14 12 10 10 — 46
EAST: Love 5 5-6 15, Williams 4 1-5 10, Graham 1 3-4 5, Dennis 1 3-4 5, Jackson 3 0-0 6, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Melbert 3 1-2 7, McFann 2 0-0 4, King 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 (1) 13-21 54.
CARROLL: Darland 4 0-0 11, Newell 0 1-2 1, Palmore 1 2-2 5, Reazin 1 0-0 2, Bieberle 4 0-0 10, Sueper 0 0-0 0, Dreiling 1 4-5 6, Rohleder 3 4-8 10, Haffner 0 1-2 1. Totals 14 (6) 12-19 46.