Only 363 days ago, Wichita Southeast’s Jerrick Harding was dismantling Wichita East all by himself, going off for 38 points. Not bad for a freshman.
East coach Joe Jackson has not forgotten. He is not about to let his team forget, either.
“I really think that has motivated our guys, knowing this kid is a dynamic scorer,” Jackson said. “We better step up, or it’s pretty embarrassing to let somebody go off like that. Our kids kind of take a little bit of pride now in defending.”
The Blue Aces were able to hold Harding, the City League’s leading scorer, in check on Friday, keeping him to 10 points. East finished with a 66-50 victory.
The game looked out of hand early. Samajae Jones put up five points in a flurry to cap a 9-0 run that put East ahead 13-4 in the first quarter. In the second, Jones polished off a 3-point play to extend the lead to 32-16.
Harding followed with a bucket with less than a minute to go in the first half. It was his first points of the contest, as he was held silent for more than 15 minutes.
“We just played good D on him. I always had a person right here on help,” Jones said.
At the half, East was up 37-18. The Blue Aces held the Buffaloes to 17 percent shooting in the first half.
“That’s probably 16 of the best minutes we’ve played all season,” Jackson said.
It started to crumble in the second half. Southeast trimmed East’s lead down to 16 by the end of the third quarter. Harding started the final eight minutes with a bucket. It was the first of 11 straight points for the Buffaloes, who were down 48-43 with four minutes to go.
Jones answered one more time. He completed the hoop and the harm to stretch the East lead back to eight. Southeast never got closer than six points from there.
Jones led the Blue Aces with 21 points. He missed the first six games of the season, but has done well to blend in in his first three back.
“He was really adamant about just coming in, not really trying to come in and dominate the game,” Jackson said. “Tonight, he still did a good job of that, but he definitely looked for his shot a little bit more tonight.”
Tyus Martin and Zach Jackson each added 14 points for East. Jordan Murdock led Southeast (6-3, 5-3) with 17.
There is some mounting pressure on East. The Blue Aces made it to 6A state a season ago, ending the year with a 15-8 mark. To start this season, they are 9-0.
“People are coming for us, but we’re ready,” Jones said. “We’re ready to come hard every day.”
East girls rock Southeast
The Wichita East girls had little trouble taking care of Southeast, rolling to a 51-29 win.
East’s lead reached 20-8 after 11 minutes off of a jumper from Antonea Carson. The Blue Aces took a 27-14 advantage into halftime.
Kimirra Lee started another push of points for the Blue Aces in the third with a steal and layup to go up 18. It was part of an 11-0 spurt that ended with a 3-pointer from Lee and a bucket in the paint from Jade Carranza.
Astrid Same and Lee each scored 12 points to pace the Blue Aces (4-5, 3-5). Southeast (1-8, 1-7) was led by Alex Arline’s seven points.