Ja'ln Williams had been plagued with foul trouble early this season and hadn't had a chance to put a whole game together.
Friday night against Southeast, Williams played without a foul until 6:09 left in the fourth quarter and the result showed.
Williams scored 28 points, leading East to a 70-61 victory.
For East (3-1, 3-1), having Williams on the floor instead of the bench was the difference.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"Wasn't that nice? I think that was part of his motivation, he hadn't been on the floor that long all year," East coach Ron Allen said. "He had a good time out there."
Southeast beat No. 1 Heights on Tuesday, and it was clear that East knew how dangerous Southeast (2-4) could be, no matter its record.
"That would be a mistake to overlook them and that wasn't going to happen," Allen said.
Williams scored eight of the first nine points for East as the Aces took command early.
East built a 19-point lead on a Williams free throw with three minutes left in the second quarter.
Everyone knew that Southeast would put a run together in the second half — after all in this rivalry, neither team had won by more than eight points in the last nine meetings.
"We knew in the second half they were going to come and try and put pressure on us," Williams said.
Southeast (2-3, 2-4) made its move in the third quarter, led by Kevin Gunter and Gavin Thurman who finished with 14 points each.
The Buffaloes cut the lead back to 50-41 with a Gavin Thurman basket with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
But as it would many times, East responded with a three by Shamari Griffin at the end of the third quarter to push its lead to 12.
"That wasn't news to me, I was expecting it," Allen said of Southeast's comeback. "Some of our components weren't playing the way they are capable. We had to settle down and show some patience."
Southeast got within 62-56 with 1:50 to play, but Williams would answer late.
He scored a basket and East broke the late pressure by Southeast, and the Buffaloes got no closer.
"It was a long time to get to be out there on the court, but I never got tired," Williams said. "It was good to be out on the floor."
Southeast's youth couldn't overcome the big early deficit.
"Sixteen turnovers, you aren't going to beat a middle school," Southeast coach Carl Taylor said.
"We did better in the second half, but we dug ourselves a hole. It's tough when you're that far behind. At least we made it decent and showed some pride."
The win keeps East a half game behind Heights and Northwest and leads the Aces to a nice break.
"This puts us in a good position," Allen said. "We wanted to go home 3-1 on the break, we know we still have a lot to work to do. We are happy for the win, but we still are a work in progress."
Southeast (2-3, 2-4) 8 10 23 20 — 61 East (3-1, 3-1) 18 18 17 17 — 70
SOUTHEAST: Gav. Thurman 5 4-5 14, Gunter 7 0-2 14, Gar. Thurman 1 6-8 8, Williams 1 4-4 6, Webb 3 0-1 6, Randle 2 0-2 4, Harris 2 0-3 4, Ramson 1 0-0 3, Reed 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 (1) 14-25 61.
EAST: Williams 12 7-8 28, Rogers 2 3-4 8, Carter 4 0-1 8, Jackson 3 1-4 7, Johnson-Reed 2 2-4 6, Farrison 2 0-0 5, Love 1 2-4 4, Griffin 1 0-0 3, Duque 0 1-2 1. Totals 26 (3) 15-25 70.