Wayne Memorial senior point guard Camree Clegg finished second to Jaida Hampton of East Lansing in one of the closest finishes in Miss Basketball voting last week.
But Clegg is more focused on winning a state championship and she will be leading Wayne (22-4) into Friday’s 2 p.m. Class A state semifinal showdown with Hampton and unbeaten East Lansing (25-0) at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.
The Wayne-East Lansing winner will face the winner of the Grosse Pointe North-Saginaw Heritage semifinal in Saturday’s noon title bout.
“That award, that voting is over with and I have a new goal and a new focus and that’s to get a championship and we’re going to continue to work hard to get that,” said Clegg, who will play next year at Clemson. “This is an unreal feeling, what we’ve been working for and all the off-season workouts has paid off for us.
“Our defense has been a great strength for us all season. We keep throwing different looks at people and our athleticism gets the best of them.”
Clegg has averaged 24 points and six assists to help Wayne earn its first regional championship in school history, then defeat Hartland in Tuesday’s state quarterfinal.
“I know what I’m going to get from her as a scorer, but now she’s leading this team when teams are geared up to stop her she’s able to lead us to victories in multiple ways other than scoring, like getting the ball to the right people, taking charges or getting rebounds, just turned into an all-around player,” praised Wayne fourth-year head coach Jarvis Mitchell of Clegg.
And while East Lansing has multiple double figure scorers in addition to Hampton, the same can be said for Wayne with 5-foot-10 junior Jeanae Terry (17.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists), 5-11 sophomore Makaliah Griggs-Zeigler (11.5 points) and 6-0 junior forward Jayah Hicks (8.4 points, 9.6 rebounds) also playing well.
So what does Wayne have to do to be successful against East Lansing and move on to the title game?
“We have to compete every possession which is the key to most games,” Mitchell said. “Our mainstay has been our defense since we’re long and athletic. We want to make the game fast, but teams have slowed us down which has been good for us, got us ready to face anything teams throw at us.”
Prediction: East Lansing by 2.
Grosse Pointe North (20-5) vs. Saginaw Heritage (25-1), noon Friday: North has one of the premier players in the state in 6-2 junior Julia Ayrault who had 27 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks in a 47-44 quarterfinal win over Detroit King. Ayrault is an MSU commit. Heritage showed it can play defense, limiting Clarkston to 25 points in a 70-25 quarterfinal win and has a star of its own in junior guard Moira Joiner.
Pick: Heritage by 6.
Detroit Country Day (21-5) vs. Kingsley (26-0), 7:30 Friday: Country Day is led by Miss Basketball finalist in point guard Kaela Webb and 6-0 senior forward Maxine Moore (Western Michigan). The duo has helped Country Day to a pair of Class B state championships and that experience should be the difference in this one.
Pick: Country Day by 4.
Jackson Northwest (24-1) vs. Michigan Center (23-2), 5:30 Friday: Sydney Shafer is playing well to help Northwest to its first Final Four, but Michigan Center’s defense will be the difference.
Pick: Michigan Center by 6.
Detroit Edison (22-1) vs. Pewamo-Westphalia (25-0), noon Thursday: This is a rematch of last year’s Class C state championship game won by Edison, 46-44 when Shaulana Wagner blocked Hannah Spitzley’s 3-poiner with three seconds left.
The stars from both teams are back, including Edison 6-3 junior Rickea Jackson (21 points, 10.4 rebounds).
“We’ve played extremely well in the last few games, definitely didn’t feel we’d jump on Flint Beecher (54-17 quarterfinal win) like we did,” pointed out Edison coach Monique Brown. “I’ve seen Pewamo at quite a bit of our games so I know they’ve been looking forward to this game. We have to play well defensively without fouling and limit their second chance shots because I know that was an issue for us in last year’s game with them.”
Sophomore guard Gabrielle Elliott is averaging 17 points for Edison and 5-7 freshman Damiya Hagemann (8.5 points, 12 assists) has played well at point guard, needing to step up after sophomore Daija Tyson suffered an ACL injury for the second straight season.
“She’s really running the team and being a team leader on the floor,” said Brown of Hagemann. “She’s a pass first point guard, but she can score too.”
Pick: Edison by 3.
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (20-5) vs. Maple City Glen Lake (23-2), 2 Thursday: Arbor Prep is looking to win its second Class C state championship in three years after losing to Country Day in last year’s Class B state title game.
Arbor Prep is led by Miss Basketball finalist Lasha Petree (Bradley). While Arbor Prep was defeating Schoolcraft (61-55) in a quarterfinal, Glen Lake defeated St. Ignace for the second straight year, 60-56.
Pick: Arbor Prep by 5.
Waterford Lakes (19-4) vs. Chassell (25-1), 5:30 Thursday: Lakes showed its ability to make the perimeter shots to take command in its 42-28 quarterfinal win, taking a 21-4 lead on its way to handing Kingston its first loss. Now, Lakes will play at Chassell team which is making its longest postseason run in school history, limiting opponents to an average of 32 points and playing great defense in a 58-41 quarterfinal win over Gaylord St. Mary, allowing just 28 percent shooting.
Pick: Chassell by 1 (OT).
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (25-0) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (24-1), 7:30 Thursday: Sacred Heart is used to playing in the Final Four, winning the state title in 2014 and losing during the final weekend to eventual state champion Pittsford the last two years. Look for that experience to pay off, led by the 1-2 punch of guard Scout Nelson and senior center Sophie Ruggles.
Pick: Sacred Heart by 8.