The key for East was its movement in and out of the post. Both of its post players, Cori Mack and Aretha Johnson, finished in the double digits, while West's three post players — Rebecca Coleman, Rachel Birch and Abby Baxter — combined for only 10 points. The Lady Colts are without veteran center Katie Bailey due to a knee injury.
"Anytime you can work inside and out, you know, we're starting to get some production inside and that's been obvious," Sallee said. "Any team wants balance, and if you get that balance you're really hard to handle. We've had the perimeter game the last two years, we just haven't had the inside."
West coach Deron Norman said all of his players are still learning.
"It's all about fundamentals, even with our post players," he said. "I can't tell you, looking at last year, how far they've come. You know, you can be big, but it doesn't mean you know what you're doing on the block. You have the girls out there, they're learning, they're getting to their spots, we just need to finish."
East continued its defensive and offensive strike in the second quarter.
"I think we would have blown them out in the first half, but it was all nerves," junior guard Krichelle Ford said. "For me it was just nerves. But after we calmed down and played as a team we did some amazing things."
West managed to post double digits when Birch dropped in a layup. Point guard Samantha Shipley's three pointer and two free throws from guard Lauren Lamar brought West to within 10 of the Lady Jags, but by halftime East had again extended its lead, 38-23.
"When we came in for halftime, we said 'OK, everybody it's like 0-0, we have to come out like we did in the beginning,'" Willoughby said.
The Lady Colts hovered close again in the second half.
"We got it down to eight and had the basketball," Norman said. "We did the things we wanted to, got the ball in the spots we thought we needed to, but just didn't finish. For us that's kind of been our Achilles heel."
"I think we were just so excited to get so close and then we kind of lost it," Shipley said. "But I think we kept our heads on pretty well."
Lamar said West needs to have everyone in high gear at once.
"We're just having a hard time getting them all together and doing what we need to do," she said. "But we're getting there. And we're going to start killing some teams."
At 2:41 in the fourth a baseline shot from Lindsey Horton gave East a big 69-54 edge
Sallee said he was proud of the way his team handled West.
"They're a very formidable foe, and at halftime even with the lead, we said they're going to keep playing hard and keep coming back," he said. "I knew that we had it in us. They (Lady Jaguars) take care of the ball well and that's been a big help to us, and they hit their free throws."
The team now has nine wins, more than last year's wins combined. East finished at 8-17 last year. Now East turns its attention to tough regional opponents.
"That's preparation for the end of the year, so it will be nice to see what some of those teams will be like," he said. "These girls have had a goal since I've been here to get to region and we're working toward that."
"Man, I just want to win the district and make it to regional," Willoughby said.
Lamar is also excited about West's upcoming month.
"We're playing some tough teams this year, and it's making us a lot better," Lamar said. "And I'm expecting a lot."