Twice as Nice: Trojan Hoop Teams Dust Off Waverly

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Saturday, December 14, 2019, 9:24 am
Mark Meyer

Senior forward Malakai Matthews (15) denies a layup attempt by Waverly's Ellis Trainor (33) during Friday night's 66-51 victory at the ELHS gymnasium. Matthews scored 13 points and blocked three shots as the Trojans improved to 2-0. (Photos by Raymond Holt)

A doubleheader sweep on their home floor to start the Capital Area Activities Conference season gave the East Lansing basketball teams several reasons to celebrate in front of a mildly enthusiastic crowd Friday night.

The Trojans girls improved to 3-0 after their one-sided, 75-11 victory in the opener; the boys, meanwhile, won their second straight, 66-51, in a game that was not as close as the final tally might indicate.

Ray Mitchell, in his second season as boys head coach, has seen what a difference a year can make in the overall maturation of his players.

“This summer the guys got in the weight room, got a lot stronger, put in a lot of work,” Mitchell said. “We’re very versatile, we have a lot of pieces. We’re nine players deep and I feel like on any night any one of those players can give us fifteen (15) to twenty (20) points. It’s going to be hard for teams to stop us because we have a lot of options.”

The visiting Warriors had difficulty containing East Lansing in the second quarter when the Trojans scored 12 unanswered to take a 32-10 lead before halftime. Junior guard Marcus Wourman and sophomore guard Mason Woods poured in consecutive 3-pointers to start the run, and then Woods added fuel to the fire when he blazed his way to an easy layup off a fast-break pass from junior forward Andrel Anthony.

Junior guard Marcus Wourman slices through the Waverly defense. Wourman scored a team-high 15 points in the 66-51 victory.

Mitchell praised his team’s ability to outrun its opponent.

“At the high school level, that’s huge,” Mitchell said. “It can be the determining factor in the ballgame. You want to get up the floor quick and get back on defense quick. The key in basketball is to get the easiest shot available. The same on defense; you want to prevent the other team from getting easy shots. With the athletes we have this year, we can do both.”

Wourman and Woods scored 15 points apiece while senior forward Malakai Matthews (the only senior in the starting lineup) contributed 13. Anthony scored 10 points for the Trojans, who built a 25-point lead (55-30) at the end of three quarters.

“We can run and we’re versatile,” said Anthony, who earlier in the week earned Division 3 All State honors for his performance during the football season. “We don’t have to worry about who’s guarding who because we interchange positions … and it works pretty well.”

East Lansing senior Aaliyah Nye — shown here with her father, James — receives a commemorative basketball Friday night for having scored her 1,000th varsity career point earlier this week.

Special recognition for senior Aaliyah Nye

East Lansing coach Rob Smith presented senior Aaliyah Nye with a souvenir basketball in recognition for surpassing the 1,000-point plateau in her varsity career. Nye becomes the seventh Trojan girls player to reach four figures in varsity career scoring. The first six to accomplish that feat were Kristin Reinhart (2002), Sami Tucker (2009), Klarissa Bell (2010), Deborah Hoekstra (2011), Taryn McCutcheon (2016) and Jaida Hampton (2018).

“They don’t come around very often,” Smith said, of this exclusive group of athletes, “and we’ve had some very special ones. Aaliyah is such a kind-hearted person … and we’re very happy for her.”

Nye contributed a game-high 16 points to Friday’s victory and was one of four Trojans to reach double figures in scoring. Junior Allie Mayes finished with 14 points while senior Sanaya Gregory and sophomore Ella Miller had 10 each.

“I was really pleased with the way she shared the ball offensively in a game that was a little lopsided like this,” Smith said. “You could have situations where kids start thinking about themselves but we were pass first tonight and created a lot of opportunities for people to score and for people to get in the game.”

Payton Baker (22) and Bre’Naya Lane (12) apply defensive pressure against Waverly’s Jordyn Byrd.

Senior forward Ahlura Lofton made two of her three 3-point attempts to finish with nine points while sophomore forward Corinne Jones scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Sophomore guard Soraya Timms rested her sore knee and did not play but Smith expects her to return Tuesday at Haslett.

“It just goes to show the depth of our team,” Lofton said. “Yes, we have some players who are injured but it also means there’s an opportunity for others to step up and prove themselves, so they can earn some more playing time.”

Lofton has been a teammate Nye’s for four years and knows why she was able to reach the thousand-point milestone.

“She’s been a really good teammate,” Lofton said. “She’s unselfish with the ball, she sees the next pass the majority of the time. She’s a knock-down shooter, she’s really aggressive and she brings good energy when she’s on the court.”

Next up: The Trojan basketball teams return to action Tuesday against Haslett (boys home, girls away). Next Friday, Dec. 20, both teams will travel to DeWitt for a key matchup in the CAAC Blue division.

More photos of Friday night’s boys game by Raymond Holt available for sharing and downloading by clicking here.

More photos of Friday night’s girls game by Raymond Holt avilable for sharing and downloading by clicking here.

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