Trojan Girls Cruise Past Holt; Boys Eye Rematch With Okemos

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Saturday, February 15, 2020, 9:00 am
Mark Meyer

Senior forward Garrett Christensen scored a season-high 15 points Friday night in East Lansing’s 64-57 victory at Holt. The Trojans, now 13-1 overall, host Okemos on Tuesday in a showdown for first place in the CAAC Blue division. (Photo by Gary Caldwell)

The East Lansing girls basketball team put a new spin on the meaning of “Sweet 16” and the result was all net, all the time.

The fact that it happened on Valentine’s Day made it all the more sweeter.

The Trojan girls strung together their finest half of the season Friday by outscoring Holt 56-15 in the first two quarters en route to a 71-30 victory that widened their lead in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue division. East Lansing, now 15-1 overall, won its ninth straight in the league without a loss. The loss dropped Holt to 12-3 overall, 6-3 in the CAAC Blue.

“Maybe one of the top 10 halves of basketball we’ve played in my time at East Lansing,” head coach Rob Smith said. “The ball just kept going in. It wasn’t that they (Holt) were playing bad defense, we just couldn’t miss.”

Meanwhile, the Trojan boys capped off another CAAC doubleheader sweep for ELHS by taking the nightcap, 64-57, in a game that reserve forward Garrett Christensen displayed some of his best shooting all season. The left-handed Christensen clicked for 15 points, including three timely treys that prevented the host Rams from getting close enough to threaten East Lansing’s lead.

“The ball found my hands, I was open a lot and I just let it go,” Christensen said.

East Lansing, now 13-1 overall and 9-1 in the CAAC Blue, will face Okemos at home Tuesday in a game that could go a long way in determining the eventual league champion.

One of those nights: Smith was kidding, of course, when he said his team “couldn’t miss” in the first half. Officially, the Trojan girls made 20 of 36 field goal attempts in the first 16 minutes, including 10 of 18 from beyond the 3-point arc. By halftime four of their players had scored in double figures: Aaliyah Nye (13), Ahlura Lofton (11), Soraya Timms (11) and Sanaya Gregory (10).

The first half went so well that the Trojans ended each quarter by making a three-point shot with under 1 second left on the clock.

“If you couple that with the kind of defense we play, it was just a wonderful, wonderful first half of basketball,” Smith said. “I was also very happy that in the second half, a lot of young ladies who have very important roles on this team were able to get in and play some minutes. That’s crucial for us coming down the tournament stretch.”

After having started the new year with a home loss to Edison Academy in early January, the Trojans have now won 10 straight games heading into Tuesday’s date at Okemos.

“Seeing the new surroundings, playing on different floors, getting used to shooting at different rims … it’s so much a part of the process we’ve committed to in terms of making adjustments quickly and effectively,” Smith said. “It was awesome to see the girls come out and flourish like they did tonight.”

A victory Tuesday at Okemos will clinch the Trojans' 16th league title in Smith's 18 years as head coach.

Friday’s scores
East Lansing 71, Holt 30
DeWitt 64, Everett 24
Waverly 50, Okemos 46
Haslett 55, Fowlerville 24
Williamston 67, Eastern 15
Lansing Catholic 47, Portland 43
St. Johns 38, Mason 21

Trojan boys bold: Christensen (above) scored seven points in the first half as East Lansing secured a 31-20 lead at the break. Holt closed the gap to three (41-38) by the end of the quarter on junior guard Aaron Carter’s two free throws and trey right before the buzzer sounded.

“It’s tough to match up against a team like Holt, with their quick guards,” East Lansing head coach Ray Mitchell said. “The high school game is a guard’s game. If you have some quick guards who can shoot, especially when you have three or four on the floor like that … they exploited that and we had some trouble containing them.”

Carter, a 5-foot-8 junior guard who led Holt with a game-high 21 points, continued tormenting the Trojans early in the fourth quarter and again brought the home team to within three (43-40) when he banked in a layup off the glass.

Christensen answered with a trey to extend East Lansing’s lead to 50-44 and at the 4:00 mark his rebound basket off a miss by Mason Woods gave the Trojans a 52-45 lead.

Junior guard Marcus Wourman Jr. made seven straight free throws in the fourth quarter while running mate Andrel Anthony Jr. scored eight of his 18 points in the final frame to prevent the Rams from threatening. Anthony’s pair of rim-rattling dunks – one in each half -- energized the Trojans and their fans. Mitchell knows his team will need that and more come Tuesday night.

“Okemos is a great team, they have a great coach and their seniors really know the game,” Mitchell said. “We have to tighten a few things up to get ready for Tuesday.”

Friday’s scores
East Lansing 64, Holt 57
Okemos 60, Waverly 41
DeWitt 77, Everett 73
Sexton 60, Ionia 57
Eastern 57, Williamston 50
Mason 52, St. Johns 30

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