Here's a tidbit about East boys coach Ron Allen: He's against gambling, whether it's at a casino, horse track, dog track.
Now Allen isn't one to get political, but he did Friday night after his Aces defeated visiting Kapaun Mount Carmel 74-61.
But it was only to make a point about his defensive expectations.
"With our defense, I want them to stay up in the lanes, put pressure on the ball," said Allen of the Aces, who are 5-1 and ranked third overall. "I don't want to gamble. I want to pressure you into doing something. When you do, we'll get a hand in your face.
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"See, I'm against gambling. Casinos, everywhere else."
For Allen, gambling is when his players lunge for a pass and they miss.
"That's a gamble, so you allowed the defense to (break) down and I don't like that," he said. "My theory is the nearest hand to the ball in the passing lane. If you don't get the deflection, you're still in position. If you go furthest hand from the ball, then you gamble for it and your man goes and you're beaten."
Defense was on Allen's mind largely because at times he was frustrated with his team. He saw them gamble, which led to Kapaun baskets — and 61 points on 22-of-47 shooting.
Kapaun coach Bernie Pearson spread the floor offensively, hindering East's preferred trapping defense. Allen didn't quit trapping, though.
"I told them, 'we're going to stay in it anyway because we need to know how to come out of a trap and get back to our man,' " said Allen, who used 13 players. "Part of it is learning with this group. Once we got better at it, then we got back in a half-court man."
Kapaun got to within 30-25 early in the third quarter following a three-pointer by Kapaun's Michael Martin, but East started pulling away for good because of its defense.
East forced three turnovers in about two minutes as it sped up the game. The Aces had a 44-27 lead with 2:25 to go in the period.
"Anytime they'd turn it into a track meet, they have an advantage," said Pearson, whose team is 4-3 after winning its first two. "We've got to play possession basketball."
"We tried to pick it up on defense," said East junior Ja'ln Williams, who had a game-high 19 points, hitting 7 of 8 shots, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. "As long as we talk, we're pretty good on defense."
East was also led by Jalen Love (12 points) and Jalen Carter (11), while Nathan Jackson had seven rebounds, eight points.
Kapaun had moments where it was sound offensively, but it was only in spurts. The Crusaders scored 28 fourth-quarter points — they scored 33 in the first three games — but gave up 28, as well.
"There just wasn't enough — not executing, being tough enough, making the key basket, giving them second-chance opportunities," Pearson said. "I told them before the game, 'take seven charges.' That would have made a big difference. We didn't get one."
Kapaun Mount Carmel (3-3, 4-3) 12 8 3 28 — 61 East (5-1, 5-1) 16 11 19 28 — 74
KAPAUN: Martin 5 4-5 15, Smalls 3 1-4 7, Reynolds 1 0-2 2, Laveist 3 0-0 6, Knox 4 6-10 14, Lewis 0 1-4 1, Boswell 1 0-0 3,Rasmussen 1 0-0 2, Washington 0 0-1 0, Floyd 3 1-2 7, Cook 1 1-2 4. Totals 22 (3) 14-30 61.
EAST: Walton 2 2-2 6, Rogers 2 1-2 5, Carter 4 3-4 11, Williams 7 2-2 19, Love 4 4-4 12, Jackson 4 0-1 8, Johnson-Reed 0 4-4 4, Samilton 1 0-0 2, Reed 1 0-2 2, Duque 0 1-2 1, Melbert 1 1-2 3, Graham 0 1-2 1. Totals 26 (3) 19-29 74.