East Lansing Girls Top DeWitt 45-41 to Remain Unbeaten
Over the past 15 years the East Lansing girls basketball program has built its reputation around certain inalienable rights:
- The right to play air-tight defense;
- The right to advance the ball up the court quickly;
- The right to be patient and look for high-percentage shots;
- The right to put forth maximum effort at all times.
With those rights comes the expectation that when the game is on the line, it’s time to get serious and make smart plays.
The Trojan girls displayed all of that and more Friday night in a 45-41 victory over DeWitt, its newest rival in the Blue Division of the Capital Area Activities Conference. Sophomore guard Allie Mayes sealed the victory by making two free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining. Mayes shared team-high scoring honors (13 points) with junior forward Ahlura Lofton, whose third of three field goals with 2:10 remaining in the fourth quarter gave East Lansing a 41-39 lead it would not relinquish.
“In what is going to be a very competitive CAAC Blue Division race, we had to get this one on our court,” said East Lansing head coach Rob Smith. “There’s no way we can run the table – it’s just too competitive.
“I challenged them. I said you can lay down, be the underdog and the young team … or you can put up a fight.”
Junior forward Aaliyah Nye (9 points) followed Lofton’s drive and basket with a key steal at the 1:33 mark and pair of free throws with :43 left to put East Lansing ahead 43-39.
“I have kids with heart and determination and grit and, I’m telling you, they love the gym,” Smith said. “They’re very committed to doing everything the right way and earning everything the right way.”
DeWitt senior guard Maddie Petersen led all scorers with 14 points. Annie McIntosh and Isabelle Gilmore contributed 10 points apiece for the Panthers.
Next up for the Lady Trojans is an away game at Holt on Friday, Dec. 21. Tipoff follows the boys game, which begins at 6 p.m.
Trojan boys struggle offensively, drop 40-30 decision to DeWitt
In a see-saw defensive struggle that lasted the entire 32 minutes of Friday’s game, freshman guard Mason Woods provided one of the few East Lansing offensive highlights when he closed out the third quarter with a driving layup to put the Trojans ahead 26-24.
But it would take more than seven minutes of play in the fourth quarter before East Lansing would reach the 28 mark. By then, visiting DeWitt (5-0 overall, 1-0 CAAC Blue) had sewed up the league opener for both teams.
“We’re still trying to figure things out offensively,” said East Lansing coach Ray Mitchell. “Our defense is great. We have a lot of young players, and we need to understand that we have to get a quality look (at the basket) each time down the court.”
Sophomore guard Marcus Wourman led East Lansing (3-2 overall, 0-1 CAAC Blue) in scoring with nine points.
DeWitt converted 18 of its 20 attempts from the free-throw line. Senior guard Nate Flannery made nine of his 10 free throws.
East Lansing played its best basketball in the third quarter, outscoring DeWitt 13-6.
“We have a lot of new guys playing bigger roles this year, and when you play in a great conference (like the CAAC Blue), it’s not easy as far as one pass and shoot,” Mitchell said. “You have to be able to execute offensively.”
The Trojans return to action Tuesday at Unity Christian in Hudsonville and then close out the 2018 portion of their schedule with an away date at Holt on Friday, Dec. 21.