Trojans Capitalize in Overtime, Remain Undefeated

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 9:06 am
Mark Meyer

East Lansing sophomore guard Mason Woods (11) scored seven points, including a game-tying 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter against Haslett Tuesday night. (Photo by Raymond Holt)

The new lease on life that overtime affords a basketball team struggling to stay afloat through 32 minutes of regulation play can never be underestimated.

The game can turn around that quickly and, with only four minutes on the clock to start the extra session, a burst of energy and execution often makes the difference between winning and losing.

The East Lansing boys basketball team improved its record to 3-0 Tuesday after outlasting Haslett, 52-46, thanks in part to saving some of its best play after regulation ended with the teams tied at 41.

Free-throw shooting was especially important for the Trojans, who converted their first six attempts and seven of eight total in overtime. East Lansing made one of two free throws in the first four quarters primarily because Haslett was whistled for only three fouls until late in the fourth quarter.

“We get in early and work on them [free throws] for a good 30 minutes before practice starts,” said center Malakai Matthews.

East Lansing quickly took control in overtime by scoring the first six points on baskets by Andrel Anthony and Marcus Wourman and two free throws by Mason Woods. Haslett cut the lead to three points on two separate possessions but four more free throws from Matthews and Wourman helped pad the lead and keep the upset-minded Vikings from stealing this crosstown matchup.

East Lansing head coach Ray Mitchell didn’t like the way his team warmed up prior to the game.

“I’m big on little things like the layup line,” Mitchell said, “and I watched our guys beforehand and they weren’t making the easy, routine shots. If you can’t win the layup line, you don’t deserve to get a victory.”

Mitchell’s pregame concerns immediately played out in front of him as East Lansing made only 7 of 39 field goal attempts in the first half, including 1 of 15 from beyond the three-point arc. For the game, the Trojans shot 20 of 69 from the floor and made 4 of 22 from 3-point range.

“Our guys have been practicing kind of flat these past few days, not paying attention to the details,” Mitchell said, “and it showed up right away [tonight]. This is what we deserved.

“At the same time, I’m proud of the way we fought when our backs were to the wall, down by eleven points. I don’t know that we would have won a game like this last year. So this team has shown some maturity, and the work that has been put in thus far is showing.”

Anthony (11 points, 11 rebounds), Wourman (9 points) and Matthews (8 points, 8 rebounds) topped the Trojans’ stat sheet.

“They were quicker than we thought they’d be,” Matthews said of the visiting Vikings, “and they could shoot it, too. Better than we had anticipated.”

Junior Xander Thelen led Haslett with a game-high 15 points.

East Lansing returns to Capital Area Activities Conference Blue division play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at DeWitt.

East Lansing girls improve to 4-0: The Trojans girls made quick work of their nonleague assignment Tuesday night by outscoring Haslett 21-1 in the first quarter en route to an 81-47 nonleague victory.

Sophomore center Ella Miller made 9 of her 10 free throws and shared team-high scoring honors (15 points) with senior guard Aaliyah Nye. Junior forward Allie Mayes came off the bench to score 12 points and grab a team-high 6 rebounds.

The Trojan girls also will travel to DeWitt on Friday for a key matchup in the CAAC Blue slated to begin at 6 p.m. The two teams split their two games last season and shared the conference title.

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