Trojans Take Next Step on Tournament Trail

Saturday, March 9, 2019, 10:19 am
Mark Meyer

Above: The East Lansing varsity girls basketball team celebrates its district championship Friday night. The Trojans will play Coldwater at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the semifinals of the Caledonia Regional. (Photo courtesy of Nikki Norris/ELHS.)

The East Lansing girls basketball team won its 13th district title in the past 16 years Friday night at home by defeating Holt 78-31 in the championship game.

Juniors Aaliyah Nye, Sanaya Gregory and Kalaia Hampton combined for 43 points for the Trojans, who improved their record to 20-2. East Lansing advances to the Caledonia Regional where it will play Coldwater (21-1), a 47-38 winner over Battle Creek Central, at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Coldwater and Battle Creek Central were tied at 38 with about two minutes to play in their district final before Coldwater scored the final nine points of the game. In a nonleague game on Feb. 15, East Lansing defeated Battle Creek Central 59-31.

The winner of Monday’s East Lansing-Coldwater regional semifinal will play for the regional championship at 7 p.m. Wednesday against the winner of the second semifinal between DeWitt (21-2) and Portage Central (16-4).

East Lansing head coach Rob Smith singled out his team’s energy and commitment.

“The girls really embraced the fact that they were playing for a championship, and that has been one of our goals since the beginning of the season,” Smith said. “I believe our energy level – right from the start -- made a huge difference in the game.”

East Lansing led 43-17 at halftime after converting nearly 50 percent of its field goal attempts. However, for the game the Trojans made only 12 of 21 free throws – a point of concern for Smith.

“Going forward, we need to improve our percentage from the free-throw line,” Smith said.

Monday’s regional semifinal will be a rematch of last year’s regional championship game between the two teams, which East Lansing won 54-40.

“Coldwater is very well-coached and they have some very talented, experienced players,” Smith said. “Emilee Smoker is a 6-foot center/forward and a four-year starter. Carlee Crabtree has been starting for three years. Their leading rebounder, Tyler Scheid, is five-eleven. Obviously, we will have to counter their size with our depth and energy.”




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