It's hard to beat a team three times in a year, goes the old saying, but thats usually when you only play a team three times.
Wichita-East and Wichita-Southeast met four times this season and the Blue Aces got the better of them the third and final time Friday night 60-50 at the Sub-State Finale.
East returns to the 6A State tournament for the first time since 2008. They last won the Boys 6A State title in 2005. Southeast last won it 2008.
First year head coach Joe Jackson shared a handshake and a hug with former East head coach Ron Allen after the game.
"Coach Allen has been my biggest supporter," said Jackson. "He is one of my huge mentors, Keith Riley, head coach of Hill City, those two guys are my mentors and it was tremendous to have them in the stands tonight. I learned so much from those guys, so it's been a tremendous experience."
The game was set to breakneck speed in the first quarter - neither team calling timeout and only a handful of deadballs let the clock run off without much interruption.
The offensive leaders for both teams: EJ Garnes and Jerrick Harding of Southeast and Samajae Jones and De'Shawn Terrell of East started all the fast breaks and made sure the crowd got their money's worth.
Garnes and Harding got Southeast up 20-16 and looked hot before Jones got hot himself and sparked a 10-0 run for East to get up five before first year Southeast head coach Mevlin Herring called timeout. It was the first of few until the second half.
Elijah Payne stopped the bleeding with a three pointer and eventually got Southeast within one point inside of the final second before a foul in the paint on Jordan Murdock. The Southeast junior big man knocked in two free throws and dropped East in a 32-31 hole at halftime.
The second half was set to the speed as the first. East stepped up their inside defense and Southeast had to really work to get layups. The ones they got were impressive: Garnes and Harding performed some amazing fetes in the second. Harding the best, falling to his right before throwing it up with his left hand and kissing it off the glass for an incredible two points.
"It was kind of like a heavyweight fight - guys going back and forth with each other," said Jackson. "We didn't get the stops we wanted. We missed a crucial rebound going into halftime, they have good guards - they are tough."
But it wasn't enough as Jones and Terrell stayed hot, scoring themselves and dishing it to Jordan Hester. Big man for East finished with 13 points. Jones had 19, a team and game high for scorers. Senior Terrell had 10.
"I told them to keep their heads right - not get in a hurry," Terrell said. "We just wanted to stay focused, not worry about what the score was, and just play."
Harding, Payne and Octevious Loudermilk combined for 30 points. Murdock had a Southeast team high 11.