Trojans Take Two From Holt the Hard Way

Saturday, January 11, 2020, 11:00 am
Mark Meyer

East Lansing sophomore guard Mason Woods and his Trojan teammates improved their record to 6-0 Friday by defeating Holt 61-58 in overtime. (Photo by Raymond Holt)

The East Lansing High School basketball teams’ collective grip on first place in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue division nearly slipped away Friday night, but an overtime victory by the boys ensured the Trojans would remain atop the standings heading into next Tuesday’s games against Okemos.

The Trojan boys defeated Holt 61-58 (their third extra-session victory of the young season) to improve to 3-0 in the CAAC Blue, 6-0 overall. The Trojan girls, meanwhile, won the opening game of the home doubleheader, 58-39, to improve to 3-0 in the conference, 6-1 overall.

Though the 19-point victory may look convincing in the box score, the Trojan girls had their hands full with the younger, scrappier Rams from the opening tipoff. Holt trimmed East Lansing’s lead to 29-27 with 5:55 remaining in the third quarter, but the Trojans managed to break free to take a 10-point lead when senior forward Aaliyah Nye converted back-to-back treys and a two-point field goal on three consecutive possessions.

“It was good to see us pull it together in the second half and play the way we’re capable of playing,” said East Lansing head coach Rob Smith.

(Photo by Jim Pivarnik)

Nye finished with a game-high 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor. Senior guard Sanaya Gregory contributed 11 points, including five early in the fourth quarter that helped secure the lead.

Freshman center Janae Tyler led Holt with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

“Holt was playing harder than us, and they were getting to the 50-50 balls,” said Smith. “Their guards were going by our guards too many times when we were playing defense.”

Friday’s scores
East Lansing 58, Holt 39
Okemos 55, Lansing Waverly 37
DeWitt 61, Lansing Everett 14
Haslett 67, Fowlerville 27
Portland 44, Lansing Catholic 38
Mason 48, St Johns 44
Williamston 57, Lansing Eastern 11
Eaton Rapids 62, Charlotte 45

Third overtime win for the EL boys

Holt erased East Lansing’s six-point lead by scoring 10 of the first 14 points to begin the fourth quarter. Senior guard Sam Ammon’s twisting layup knotted the score at 43 with 5:34 to play. Ammon, who led all scorers with 26 points, then made back-to-back treys to put the visitors ahead 51-47 with 2:32 on the clock.

“First of all, you have to give Holt all the credit for not quitting when they were down,” said East Lansing head coach Ray Mitchell. “They could have folded and turned it in, but they didn’t. That’s a credit to them. My guys need to figure out how to finish games off. When we’re up, we get a little too excited too early.”

East Lansing still trailed by three points with less than 15 seconds to play in regulation. Sophomore guard Mason Woods misfired on a three-point attempt but senior forward Malakai Matthews controlled the rebound long enough for Mitchell to call a timeout with 8 seconds left.

Woods tried another trey but was fouled by Holt’s Jacob Howard with 5.8 seconds left. Woods made both free throws to trim the deficit to a point; Holt coach Ben Curtis then called timeout to set up an inbounds play underneath his own basket.

“We work on defending that play every day in practice,” Mitchell said. “We use a diamond formation. We put a man on the ball and everyone else is denying their man the ball, making sure they don’t get beat deep. Deny, help, deny.”

East Lansing’s pressure defense forced a key turnover when Holt’s Josiah Shamsideen threw a pass to a teammate who wasn’t there. On the ensuing play, Woods missed a desperation trey but was fouled with .5 seconds left by Holt’s Malachi Davis.

Woods made the first of two free throws but missed the second, tying the game at 52 and setting the stage for overtime. Matthews and junior guard Marcus Wourman each scored two of their team-high 16 points in the four-minute overtime, which the Trojans were able to control better than they did the 11-point lead they had at halftime (28-17).

“We’re happy to be six-and-oh, but we need to work on our composure, work on finishing games, and understanding how to compete when the other team’s back is against the wall,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes we tend to relax and let the other team back in the game. We have to make sure that we’re competing and closing out hard, like we do in practice.”

Woods, who scored all of his three points in the last six seconds of regulation, knows his coach has a point.

“Last year we didn’t buy in as a team,” said Woods. “But Coach Ray told us, ‘Trust me: I know what it takes to win.’ We know he knows – we just have to buy in as a team.”

Friday night’s scores
Everett 57, DeWitt 50 (OT)
East Lansing 61, Holt 58 (OT)
Okemos 70, Lansing Waverly 54
Eaton Rapids 56, Charlotte 42
Lansing Catholic 85, Portland 27
Fowlerville 101, Haslett 93
Ionia 61, Lansing Sexton 44
Mason 53, St Johns 45
Williamston 58, Lansing Eastern 41


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