As soon as East coach Ron Allen sees one of his players failing to produce offensively or lagging defensively, he has no compunction about pulling him from the game.
And he shouldn't. Not with a bench like he has. He can sub at will, and there's not much drop off.
Friday night, it was East's bench players who took a four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and turned it into a 66-53 victory over visiting North. The reserves scored 19 of East's 21 fourth-quarter points.
"We got some fresh bodies in," said Allen, whose team is ranked third overall and improved to 7-1.
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East's depth was especially obvious in comparison to North (3-5), which primarily used six players and struggled with foul trouble most of the game.
East sophomore Nathan Jackson came off the bench to score a game-high 16 points, including six in the final period. Chris Johnson, who recently became eligible after transferring to East, hit three three-pointers in the final period, while Dario Duque scored his four points in the period, too.
Chaquil Reed came off the bench in the third, got a rebound, scored, was fouled and hit the free throw.
"The depth is our key," Allen said."... We've just got everybody in uniform and I have confidence in them."
With as deep as East's bench is, players might fear they won't re-enter the game once they're taken out.
"As long as you're productive, Coach Allen isn't going to forget about you," guard Ja'ln Williams said. "He doesn't forget about anybody.
"For as old as he is, he has a good memory."
It can be a problem for Allen, though.
"It makes it difficult to run them in and run them out," Allen said. "You're trying to establish some continuity, establish chemistry.... It's a tough situation for a coach. You don't want to have a kid over there ready to go and you don't really check on him enough to find out if he's really ready to deliver tonight."
East needed its depth to hold off North early. While North's Briston White was assessed a technical foul for dunking in warmups — East's Randall Rogers hit both free throws — the Redskins controlled the period, hitting 8 of 12 shots. Spencer Robertson scored eight of his 14 points in the first.
But in the second quarter, East started to take control, holding North to six points.
With East leading by four heading into the fourth quarter — North's Brison White capped an 11-point third period with a three-pointer at the buzzer — the Aces quickly pulled away.
East opened the fourth with a putback by Duque, an inside basket by Jackson and a Johnson three. East took its biggest lead at 64-45 on Johnson's third three of the period.
"We quit rebounding on the defensive side and then on the offensive side," North coach Gary Squires said of the final period. "Our help-side defense, we just broke down. We got frustrated because we couldn't score."
North was led by Brison White's 15 points.
North (3-5, 3-5) 17 6 18 12 — 53 East (7-1, 7-1) 13 14 18 21 — 66
NORTH: Frankamp 3 0-0 8, Brison White 7 0-3 15, Tolliver 0 0-3 0, Briston White 2 2-2 6, Wright 3 1-5 7, Robertson 7 0-0 14, Dukes 0 0-0 0, Holloway 1 0-0 3, Henderson 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 (4) 3-13 53.
EAST: Walton 3 2-6 8, Carter 1 0-0 2, Rogers 2 2-2 6, Williams 1 3-4 5, Love 4 2-4 11, Jackson 7 1-2 16, Johnson-Reed 0 0-2 0, Griffin 1 0-0 2, Johnson 3 0-0 9, Duque 2 0-2 4, Reed 1 1-1 3, Samilton 0 0-0 0, Graham 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 (5) 11-23 66.