It’s not always easy to bounce back after a demoralizing loss, but that was the reality the East boys were facing Tuesday night.
Three days after falling to rival Southeast, the Blue Aces had to hit the court once again against a tough Bishop Carroll squad, and they left no room for error, never trailing in a 55-41 triumph.
“The improvement we made from Friday to tonight was just remarkable,” East coach Joe Jackson said. “We challenged our guys to put it all out there tonight. Nobody ever looks back with regret about playing hard, and that was our message to them all weekend.”
After an individual 6-0 run by Elijah Kelly to get East off to a hot start, the Blue Aces answered Carroll’s first basket with a 12-0 burst, making 6 of 8 from the field to go out to an 18-3 lead. James Caldwell had a stick-back slam, and Michael McKinney stole the ensuing inbounds pass and put it in to cap the run.
Five quick points from RJ Biby got the Golden Eagles closer to start the second, and consecutive three-pointers from Clay Cundiff and Tanner Mans cut the lead to 28-19 with 2:22 left in the quarter. It was the first time Carroll trailed by fewer than 10 since it was 12-3, but McKinney responded right away with a three of his own to bump it right back to 12.
“It was definitely a little nerve-wracking at times,” Jackson said. “They’re a tough team. We escaped with a one-point win at their place, and to have us respond the way we did tonight and put forth that kind of effort, it’s great.
“Their zone can take the wind out of your sails a little bit, but I thought the guys were aggressive in attacking. Guys got tired sooner, but we just rotated in a few more guys.”
After a quick bucket by Cundiff in the third, East answered with a Caldwell putback and a McKinney three-pointer that shot the lead right back to 15, and the hosts led by 20 by the end of the third before the teams cleared their benches.
The Blue Aces got a balanced effort from Zion Fralin, who put up 12 points and six rebounds, Caldwell, who added 11 points and eight boards, and McKinney, who added another 12 points. Cundiff led Carroll with 12 points and six rebounds.
“We had an hour-long meeting Saturday, and let the guys get up and talk,” Jackson said. “We’ve been really fortunate the last couple years to have teams that were talented and played for each other, and tonight we took a big step toward being another one of those teams.”
Carroll 5 16 7 13 -- 41
East 20 13 15 7 -- 55
CARROLL: Theis 3, Cundiff 12, Biby 7, Becker 5, Pracht 2, Mans 6, Jones 3, Kennedy 3.
EAST: McKinney 12, Kelly 8, 4 Jacobs 4, Caldwell 11, Valentin 5, Fralin 12, Carter 3.