Edison Academy Gives East Lansing a Glimpse of Its State Title Form

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020, 9:00 am
Mark Meyer

East Lansing senior forward Sug Williams looks for room to shoot against Edison Academy defender Daija Tyson during Tuesday night’s game at ELHS.  (Photos by Jim Pivarnik)

Three-time defending state champion Edison Academy made its first Detroit-to-East Lansing trip a very successful one Tuesday night by defeating the previously unbeaten East Lansing girls basketball team 65-48 in front of a large and vocally enthusiastic crowd at the ELHS gymnasium.

The visiting Pioneers, now 7-0, are scheduled to make a return trip to mid-Michigan Jan. 28 at Okemos. Needless to say, if they continue to play with the energy and intensity they showed against the Trojans, it’s a safe bet that the Pioneers will earn a spot at the Breslin Center in March for the Division 2 state finals.

East Lansing popped out to an early lead in the first quarter on the strength of three treys by senior Aaliyah Nye but could not regain the lead after falling behind by six after one quarter (17-11) and by seven at halftime (34-27).

The Trojans made a short-lived 6-0 run to start the second half to trim the Edison lead to one with 6:19 to play in the third quarter. Sophomore center Ella Miller made two free throws, senior forward Sug Williams scored on a drive lay-in and senior guard Sanaya Gregory made two free throws.

East Lansing sophomore center Ella Miller tries to maneuver around the swarming defense of Edison Academy’s Gabrielle Elliott.

Edison countered with a trey by senior guard Shaulana Wagner and back-to-back baskets by senior forward Gabrielle Elliott.

Trailing 48-39 to start the fourth quarter, East Lansing (5-1) went scoreless for the first four minutes while Edison put the game out of reach by scoring eight unanswered points to lead by 17.

“It’s a learning experience, and a great game to have early,” said East Lansing head coach Rob Smith. “You never want to lose a game to be taught a lesson. But if you give your best effort and the other team is just better that night, then you go back to practice the next day and you get better, and you learn from it.

“And that’s why we scheduled this game. I’m proud of the kids, the coaching staff, and super proud of the way these fans turned out tonight to pack the gym.”

Elliott, a 5-foot-10 senior forward and leading candidate for Miss Basketball, was very difficult for the Trojans to contain. She scored 10 of her game-high 26 points in the first quarter on an array of inside moves around the basket. She made 13 of her 19 field goal attempts and also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.

“They are an amazing team, very well coached, with talent like crazy all over the place,” Smith said.

East Lansing senior guard Aaliyah Nye releases a three-point attempt during the first quarter of Tuesday’s game. Nye led East Lansing in scoring with 17 points.

Not even a pregame meal mixup could prevent Elliott from turning in a typically stellar effort.

“She’s on a strict no-meat diet and somehow she was ordered the wrong meal,” Edison coach Monique Brown said afterward. “Her? Of all people, right? Well, she said she was winded and a bit fatigued in the first quarter, but she certainly recovered.”

Brown also was pleased with the play of Wagner, who scored 11 points.

“I’ve been waiting on her, and this is what we like to see,” Brown said. “We need that type of consistency from her.”

Nye led East Lansing with 17 points, 13 of which she scored in the first half. Williams was the only other scorer (13 points) in double figures for the Trojans, who return to action at 6 p.m. Friday in a CAAC Blue matchup with Holt.

The Trojan boys will take a 4-0 record into Friday’s second game of the home doubleheader.

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