East Lansing girls basketball focuses on championship dreams

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Aaliyah Nye working on her shot while at practice

Dervon Thompson

Aaliyah Nye working on her jumpshot while at practice

To be a champion, you must be able to accomplish one important thing: winning.

Head Coach Rob Smith has established himself as a top-tier leader for the East Lansing Lady Trojans for more than 15 years. He recently reached a career milestone of 300 wins as their coach, and his team is ranked number 2 in the Class A division in the state and went into the playoffs undefeated.

Before the start of the season, Smith had other plans for 2017-2018. East Lansing entered the regular season with a 2-9 pre-season record. Smith said he thought 13-7 was more realistic for the regular season because of a tough schedule, but his team has proven him wrong.

East Lansing has dominated most of its games, winning by 10 points or more except in two games. In a 73-9 victory over Lansing Sexton, East Lansing tied the state record for most 3-point field goals in a game with 23.

“Tying the state record was really important to the program,” said senior Jaida Hampton. “The fact that we are even at the top is really a big deal because it shows the hard work that comes from our shooting because in the past years we haven’t been such a good 3-point shooting team.”

Aside from shooting, defense has been a point of emphasis. East Lansing has held opponents to an average of 33 points per game.

Sophomore Aaliyah Nye said that good chemistry has been important for the team’s play. She said the players all have each other’s best interest and it is showing on the court.

East Lansing has had impressive wins throughout the season against the likes of DeWitt High School and Williamston High School, both which were important games for the players and coaches.

DeWitt was East Lansing’s first pre-season loss and Smith had no idea what to expect so early in the season.

“I thought we were going to lose by like 20,” said Smith. “DeWitt had been together for so long and had all their kids healthy. The way they were playing and the way we were playing, I thought it would be difficult.”

Jaida Hampton had the game against Williamston circled from the start of the season. She said the team had never beaten Williamston since her arrival at East Lansing. Although Williamston was faced with injuries, Hampton said she believes a win was inevitable because of the team’s determination.

Smith and his team have switched gears and have one remaining goal of the season: win a state championship.

They want a state championship and that’s what’s driving us right now.”

No matter the outcome of East Lansing’s future, the season has been successful.

“If we didn’t win the states, I’m sure we’d be really disappointed but we’ve had a good season,” Smith said. “There’s been a lot of growth when you go from thinking you can lose four or five games on your schedule to winning them all, it’s pretty awesome.”

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