Trojan Girls Topple DeWitt, Advance to Regionals
Aaliyah Nye (32), Sug Williams (0) and Soraya Timms (11) all played key roles in East Lansing’s district championship victory over DeWitt.
The East Lansing girls basketball team won its fifth consecutive district title and its 11th since 2007 by defeating CAAC Blue rival DeWitt 44-24 Friday at Grand Ledge.
East Lansing overcame a 10-point run by DeWitt in the first quarter by quickly erasing a 13-9 deficit with a 20-3 surge of its own to lead 27-18 at halftime.
Despite making only 1 of its 14 field goal attempts from three-point range, the Trojans (now 22-1) relied on their strong defense to limit DeWitt to six points in the second half. East Lansing forced DeWitt into 19 turnovers and outrebounded the Panthers 35-18.
Miss Basketball candidate Aaliyah Nye, limited to eight points offensively (approximately half of her season average), had perhaps her best defensive effort of the year in leading the Trojans with a game-high 16 rebounds.
Prior to the start of the district, Nye – a four-year starter – was adamant about how the Trojans could improve their chances of advancing through the tournament.
“We have to do a better job of challenging the other team’s shooters, myself included,” she said. “We have to be quicker on our feet. We’ve been working on that in practice; we know it can make a difference. We just have to do it.”
Senior Sug Williams and sophomore Soraya Timms led the Trojans in scoring with 10 points apiece; senior Ahlura Lofton contributed eight points.
East Lansing head coach Rob Smith said to win three games in one season against a rival such as DeWitt is an achievement in itself.
“These two teams know each other well, and we know that when we line up against one another it’s going to be a battle,” Smith said. [DeWitt Coach] Bill McCullen has had an incredible amount of success over the past twenty-four years, and to be able to get past [DeWitt] is like a breath of fresh air.”
Portage Central (21-3) advanced to Tuesday’s regional semifinal by defeating Kalamazoo Central 46-26 to win the Lakeshore District at Stevensville.
“Any time you face a team that has won twenty  games in one season, you know they’re a quality team,” Smith said of Portage Central. “We’ll need to make sure their point guard [Abby Long] isn’t able to control the game like she usually does.”
The winner of Tuesday’s first regional semifinal will advance to the regional championship at 7 p.m. Thursday against the winner of the Holt (19-4)-Battle Creek Central (19-4) game, to be played immediately following the East Lansing-Portage Central game on Tuesday.
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