East’s boys basketball team has plenty of athleticism and plenty of tradition, with the Blue Aces winning the Class 6A state championship just two years ago.
But Washburn Rural never gave East much of a chance to use either of those attributes, with the Junior Blues taking control of Wednesday night’s Class 6A sub-state semifinal late in the first quarter and never looking back, rolling to a 58-41 win at Rural.
With the win, the 15-6 Junior Blues advanced to a 7 p.m. sub-state championship game Friday night at Manhattan. The Indians advanced with a 52-22 win over Junction City. Rural earned a 53-41 win over Manhattan earlier in the season.
East (13-8) led 5-3 early but Rural ended the first quarter with a 15-2 run to take an 18-7 lead. The Junior Blues then hit the Aces with a 12-4 second quarter and Rural was in command at the half, 30-11.
“The first half was tough,’’ East coach Joe Jackson said. “They out-performed us the first half. I didn’t do a very good job of having the guys ready to go, obviously.
“The guys responded well the second half, but that’s a very, very good team and defensively we weren’t quite where we needed to be.’’
East mounted a couple of runs in the second half, but never got any closer than 13 points (45-32).
“We executed our game plan really well, defensively and offensively,’’ Rural coach Todd McAtee said. “We knocked down a few shots early and we’re a team that when we do that it really gets our confidence going, so that helps.
“And we did the things we needed to do down the stretch to win the game. We made them take the shots that we wanted them to take.’’
Like it has most of the season Rural’s rode its balance to the win, with five Junior Blues scoring at least seven points. Sophomore Jordan White led Rural with 14 points while senior Zach Ebert had 12 points on four three-pointers and junior Jack Hamilton had 10 points.
East was led by senior Michael McKinney, who scored 18 points. McKinney was the lone Aces player with more than eight points.
East 7 4 11 19 -- 41
Washburn Rural 18 12 11 17 -- 58
EAST: McKinney 18, Jacobs 2, Fralin 4, Caldwell 4, Jenkins 2, Roberts 8, Valentin 3.
RURAL: Ebert 12, B. White 3, J. White 14, Wingert 7, Hamilton 10, Swopes 2, Hickel 9, Cummings 1.