Saturday, April 13, 2024
HomeSportPrep Hoops: Top-ranked East boys Deng good in second half, shut down...

Prep Hoops: Top-ranked East boys Deng good in second half, shut down Bartlett to run winning streak to 12

East’s Deng Deng shoots over St. Joseph (CA) defenders at the Alaska Airlines Classic. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Deng Deng was so nice they named him twice, and he was Deng good Friday night.

The 6-foot-4 East junior came off the bench to deliver 15 points and two dunks to lift the top-ranked T-birds’ boys basketball team to a 54-37 victory at Bartlett in the Cook Inlet Conference.

East moved to 21-1 overall and ran its winning streak to 12 games while clinching the CIC’s No. 1 seed at next month’s conference tournament.

Michael George added 11 points and Jal Tharjiath chipped in 10 for the T-birds, who used a suffocating second-half defensive effort to pull away from the upset-minded Golden Bears.

The T-birds outscored Bartlett 27-18 across the third and fourth quarters, limiting the Bears to just four field goals over the final 10-plus minutes.

Defense is the calling card for defending state champion East, which has won 23 straight games against in-state competition dating back to last season.

As a role player, Deng isn’t normally one of the big names for the star-studded T-birds; but Friday he was the team’s most effective playmaker for much of the night.

CIC Boys Basketball

LEAGUE TEAM OVERALL
12-0 East 21-1
8-4 Service 17-7
8-4 West 14-7
8-4 Dimond 14-8
6-6 Bartlett 10-11
4-8 South 9-14
2-10 Eagle River 4-17
0-12 Chugiak 4-16

FRIDAY
#1 East 54, Bartlett 37
#4 Service 59, Chugiak 44
Dimond 64, #3 West 57
Eagle River 55, South 53

Deng, a skinny southpaw, helped East break out of an early funk against Bartlett’s 2-3 zone defense as the T-birds’ starters were visibly bothered and racked up more fouls (5) than points (2) in the opening five minutes.

His length and strength in the key led to easy buckets as he routinely got the ball near the free-throw line and attacked the zone. He had a hand in nine of the team’s first 12 points and twice found Austin Johnson under the basket for layups as the two bench boys got the T-birds going.

All-state junior Muhammed Sabally then found his rhythm, pumping in two 3-pointers and converting a leakout layup to force a Bartlett timeout.

East’s lead stood at 27-14 before the Bears’ offense came out of hibernation.

Ayden James’ offensive rebound putback got the party started and kickstarted a 12-2 run. Marquez Nevitte’s tough layup in traffic pulled Bartlett within 29-26.

Bartlett coach Steve Drussell talks with his team. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

The Bears are having somewhat of a revival this season with their six CIC wins being the most for the team since 2020, with two more games still yet to be played.

Lok Kulang’s 15 points led Bartlett while Adrien Phichantharath had 10, including two free throws that got the Bears within 33-28 in the third quarter.

Tharjiath was terrific for the T-birds and was on the receiving end of some nice post feeds for easy conversations. He also blocked a Bartlett player’s 3-point shot that led to George’s layup. That fastbreak bucket coupled with George’s two free throws and Tharjiath’s assist on Deng’s basket put East ahead 39-28.

Deng finished off his fabulous night in the fourth quarter. He scored on an offensive rebound, cashed in on a pretty spin move over two defenders and threw down a two-handed dunk.

EAST (54) – Tharjiath 10, Johnson 5, Sulaiman 0, Deng 15, Sabally 9, George 11, Contreras 2, Roberts 2.

BARTLETT (37) – Kulang 15, Phichantharath 10, James 2, S. Drussell 1, Alexander 0, Jordan 4, Nevitte 2, A. Drussell 3.

East 10 17 12 15 – 54
Bartlett 5 14 11 7 – 37

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