Full speed ahead for East Lansing Girls, now 12-0
Above: East Lansing junior forward Aaliyah Nye scored a game-high 24 points in an 82-25 victory over Waverly on Friday night.
When East Lansing girls basketball coach Rob Smith says the varsity game is “slowing down” for Aaliyah Nye, he means it in the best possible way.
Nye scored 24 points to lead the unbeaten Trojans to their 12th victory of the season Friday, 82-25 over Waverly. The junior forward has become a driving force behind East Lansing’s offensive surge to the top of the CAAC Blue standings (7-0) by developing into a threat to score from all points on the floor.
Nearly unstoppable in the first half when scoring 21 points, Nye finally met her match when she was fouled – and temporarily winded – with two minutes left in the third quarter.
“Aaliyah is starting to figure things out,” Smith said. “She can see when she should go (drive toward the basket), when she should pass or when she should shoot. Of course, her defensive capabilities are really, really high. We count on her to be a defensive stopper many nights.”
As one of seven juniors (and no seniors) on this year’s team, Nye knows that she’s being counted on to play a leadership role in a year that started with some question marks.
“I’d say we’re pleased with how things have gone so far but we also know there’s room for much improvement,” Nye said. “Defensively, there’s always something we can do better, like rebound more aggressively or just simply defend with more energy.
“Myself, I think it’s going to help by mixing things up. I don’t want to strictly rely on my outside shot. Coach would like me to draw more fouls and get to the free-throw line more often.”
Nye converted nine of her 16 field goal attempts but made only two of seven from three-point range. As a team, the Trojans made just six of 33 attempts beyond the arc.
Freshman center Ella Miller (17 points) also reached double figures in scoring for the Trojans on a night where everyone who played scored at least two points.
And when junior Hadley Vanderbusch drilled a three-pointer in the second quarter, the East Lansing players and fans had plenty to cheer about.
“Nobody likes to see a running clock but our fans also expect us to play the East Lansing way,” Smith said, “so to jump out to a lead like we did at halftime (57-15) shows that the girls are not taking anything for granted. When the ball goes up, we turn it up.”
Waverly boys avenge earlier loss to Trojans
Senior forward Sabastian Washington and sophomore guard Pierre Summers scored 17 points each and junior forward Ellis Trainor had 14 to lead Waverly to a 64-56 victory over East Lansing (8-5 overall, 4-3 CAAC Blue) in the first game of the Trojans’ home doubleheader.
After trailing 46-44 entering the fourth quarter, East Lansing took the lead 49-48 with 5:30 to play on a three-point goal by senior guard Jack Morse (10 points). From that point on, however, it was all Waverly as the Warriors scored 16 of the game’s final 23 points.
“Execution at the end and finishing games strong is what we’ve talked about, so this is a big win for us,” said Waverly coach Craig Fields, whose team lost to East Lansing 54-49 on Dec. 7.
In the East Lansing locker room, the mood was much different. After an inspirational victory Tuesday against St. Johns, the Trojans fell victim to fourth-quarter turnovers and an inability to contain Waverly’s top trio.
“We talked about protecting the ball in a comeback situation, and you can’t beat yourself (with turnovers),” said East Lansing coach Ray Mitchell. “The fourth quarter was what it was … but I also believe we didn’t help each other enough in the first half (after falling behind 36-27). We didn’t stick to our defensive concepts that we practice every day. For some reason we were a step slow.”
Sophomore forward Andrel Anthony led the Trojans in scoring with a game-high 19 points, including 15 in the second half. Sophomore center Ethan Boyd scored all of his 10 points in the first half.
Next up: Both East Lansing teams travel to DeWitt on Tuesday for a CAAC Blue doubleheader, beginning with the boys game at 6 p.m.