East Lansing pulls away from Wayne in the third quarter, goes on to win its Class A semifinal, 60-52
Grand Rapids – When 2017 finalist and top-ranked East Kentwood was upset by Caledonia in a district final, much of the attention in the Class A tournament was placed upon Saginaw Heritage and East Lansing, ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively.
Heritage (26-1) and East Lansing (26-0), programs that have state titles on their resume, were seeded in opposite brackets and, as the tournament progressed, anticipation grew.
Those expectations will be fulfilled when the two talent-rich teams play for the Class A title on Saturday.
Heritage did its part in the first semifinal with a 46-28 victory over Grosse Pointe North.
East Lansing had a bit more trouble disposing of its semifinal opponent. Wayne Memorial, which had not won a regional until this season, led the Trojans, 34-33, after a basket by Jasmine Elder with 6:29 left in the third quarter. That was the sixth lead change of the game and there would be just one more.
Miss Basketball Jaida Hampton made two free throws 16 seconds later and this sparked a 10-0 run and the Trojans went on to defeat Wayne, 60-52, on Friday at Calvin College’s Van Noord Arena in Grand Rapids.
“We’re feeling extremely blessed to be playing a great team in the state final,” East Lansing coach Rob Smith said.
After Makailah Griggs-Zeigler scored to end that run, Wayne would score just three more baskets, all in the fourth quarter. East Lansing led 50-41 after the third, a quarter that seemed to diminish much of the energy Wayne had built.
Amelia McNutt had 20 points, Aaliyah Nye added 16 and her sister, Aazhanii, had 11. Hampton had seven points and nine rebounds.
For Wayne (22-5) Camree’ Clegg had 16 points, five assists and six rebounds, and Hoskin had 11 points and nine rebounds.
“The last few games our mindset has been pretty strong going into the third quarter,” Hampton said. “We wanted to come out with energy. That first half wasn’t our best.”
It was the first time East Lansing trailed at halftime and Aaliyah Nye said that was all her team needed to increase their motivation.
“That was a reality check,” she said. “Our halftimes are really calm. We just talked about boxing out. They had a lot of second-chance opportunities in that first half.”
Wayne had 11 second-chance points in the first 16 minutes and just five I the second half.
“East Lansing played as hard as any team we played,” Wayne coach Jarvis Mitchell said. “They made a run. Basketball is a game of runs. I felt there were a lot of layups we missed that we didn’t get to stop their momentum.”
Statistically, the game was even except that Wayne shot 32.2 percent (19-59) from the field and East Lansing was 19-of-45 (42.2 percent).