Trojan Basketball Teams Enter Holiday Break on Upbeat Note

Saturday, December 21, 2019, 9:12 am
Mark Meyer

Marcus Wourman (left) and Soraya Timms scored 17 points each Friday night to help lead their Trojan basketball teams to victories at DeWitt. (Photos by Raymond Holt and Jim Pivarnik)

The East Lansing varsity basketball teams doubled up Friday night at DeWitt and in so doing enter the two-week holiday break riding a nine-game winning streak.

The Trojans girls posted a 62-38 victory to improve their record to 5-0 while the boys won their second overtime game of the week, 58-55, to remain unbeaten after four games.

The victories by both East Lansing teams not only avenged a pair of losses to DeWitt on the same floor last February, but also gave some of the Trojan football players a measure of satisfaction after having been knocked out of the playoffs by the Panthers two years in a row.

Trojan junior guard Andrel Anthony, an all-state receiver in football, made a clutch three-point basket with 1:50 left in overtime to break a tie at 52 and give the Trojans a lead they would not relinquish. He also stepped in front of a pass to prevent DeWitt from forcing a turnover with less than 30 seconds left to play and the Trojans clinging to a two-point lead.

“We trust each other,” Anthony said, when asked what has made the difference between winning and losing two close games this week. “We all can guard anyone. We can dribble, drive, finish at the rim.

“We had to win this game. We couldn’t lose to DeWitt (again). They beat us in football, and I kept reminding myself of that.”

Anthony finished with 12 points (including four straight at the free-throw line) and he had plenty of support from junior guard Marcus Wourman (17 points), sophomore guard Mason Woods (11 points) and senior forward Malakai Matthews (10 points, 7 rebounds). Junior center Ethan Boyd and sophomore center Ethan Dunn combined to make eight of their 10 free throws, and Dunn grabbed two key defensive rebounds in overtime.

“It definitely shows character, and that’s what I tell my guys,” said East Lansing coach Ray Mitchell, when asked about the significance of winning back-to-back overtime games. “You have to be able to fight and make some stops when it matters most, and we’ve been able to do that so far. Hopefully we can carry it into the rest of the season.”

The East Lansing girls wasted little time is establishing their tempo by racing to leads of 15-6 after eight minutes and 29-12 at halftime, and they maintained that 17-point cushion throughout the second half.

Sophomore guard Soraya Timms returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore knee, and she made the most of her 20 minutes of playing time by scoring 17 points — including her first three field goal attempts from beyond the three-point arc.

“They’re a little bit older, a little stronger and more mature,” DeWitt coach Bill McCullen said of the Trojans, “and they’re number one in the state for a reason. That’s a good squad and they’re deep. That’s one of the things that is most formidable about them: they just keep rolling people in there.

“One of their players might get two or three fouls, and here comes someone to replace her who might be better.”

In addition to Timms, the Trojans were led by double-digit scoring efforts from senior guard Aliyah Nye (20 points), sophomore center Ella Miller (12 points, 10 rebounds), and senior forward Sug Williams (11 points, 9 rebounds).

Senior guard Abbey Dawes (11 points) and sophomore forward Alexa Ashley (10 points) were the top two scorers for the Panthers, who are now 2-2.

“It’s a privilege to be in these kind of games,” said East Lansing coach Rob Smith. “I consider Bill McCullen to be one of the best coaches in the state, and everyone knows he runs such a fine program. We get so excited to play this rivalry and very blessed to have the outcome that we did tonight.”

Smith was also pleased that Timms was able to play at full speed after having sat out the team’s previous two games.

“We knew how important this game was because of the league race,” Smith said. “(Timms) was a little rusty, but still pretty darn good.”

Next up: The Trojans return to action again in the new year, with the girls facing three-time defending state champion Detroit Edison at the ELHS gymnasium on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Both the Trojan boys and girls will play Friday, Jan. 10, in a home doubleheader against Holt.

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