Grand Rapids – Aaliyah Nye stole the spotlight from her Miss Basketball award-winning teammate, Jaida Hampton, to lead East Lansing to a 60-52 victory over Wayne Memorial in a Class A state semifinal Friday afternoon at Van Noord Arena.
East Lansing (26-0) will play Saginaw Heritage (26-1) in the championship game Saturday at noon.
Nye, a 5-foot-11 sophomore forward, scored eight points during a 20-6 run to open the second half to turn a 30-27 halftime deficit into a 47-36 lead with three minutes left in the third.
Nye scored in transition to end a 6-0 run to start the third quarter, then scored on a short jumper and off a pair of put-backs. She also blocked a shot from Miss Basketball finalist, Clemson-bound point guard Camree Clegg, leading to another transition basket.
And while East Lansing was making 9-of-13 shots during the pivotal third quarter to take a 50-41 lead, Wayne forced some early shots, making just 3-of-13 shots for the quarter and turning the ball over four times.
“This was the first game we had been down going into the third quarter and that really gave us a shocker, a reality check that we needed to come out and play hard because this wasn’t how our season was going to end,” Aaliyah Nye said. “We worked so hard to get here so we just picked each other up and knocked down some big shots.
“Our halftimes are really calm. We really just talked about our boxing out because they had a lot of second-chance opportunities. We talked about our fastbreaks and our defense and we really capitalized on what we talked about, what we needed to improve on.”
Wayne held a 25-20 rebounding advantage in the first half, getting 14 offensive rebounds, but only scoring 11 second-chance points. East Lansing did a much better job in the second half, owning a 38-36 edge for the game and limiting Wayne to six points off seven offensive rebounds during the final two quarters.
In fact, it was rebounding that Wayne coach Jarvis Mitchell felt was the difference in the second half.
“I was happy about the looks we got (in second half), there’s wasn’t a lot of air balls,” Mitchell said. “When they went on their runs it sucked a lot of energy out of us. We had a lot of miscues on rebounding and they went on their run and I warned the girls that they would, but that’s basketball.
“Basketball is a game of runs and hopefully you’re on the positive side of runs. They made some tough drives and scored the basketball.”
Nye finished with a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds), making 7-of-14 shots before fouling out with 3:01 left and her team leading 55-43. Senior guard Amelia McNutt scored 20 and senior guard Aazhenii Nye 11.
Hampton, who was named Miss Basketball last Friday, had seven points (2-of-9, 1-of-6 3-pointers) and nine rebounds.
Wayne 5-10 junior guard Jeanae Terry, who averaged 17.7 points and 6.5 rebounds, struggled offensively (2-of-8 shooting) and fouled out midway through the fourth quarter with five points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Clegg scored 16, but made just 4-of-19 shots (1-of-9 3-pointers). She had six rebounds, five assists and took four charges at the defensive end for Wayne (22-5). Sammiyah Hoskin had 11 points.
Clegg said East Lansing came out with the box-and-one to slow her down, but it wasn’t something other teams hadn’t used on Wayne this season, including Hartland in Tuesday’s state quarterfinal.
Still, Clegg was proud of her team’s accomplishment to reach the Final Four.
“Four years ago we were 0-20 and now the whole community is coming out to watch us, and it’s a great feeling,” Clegg said.
Detroit Edison 50, Pewamo-Westphalia 39
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 53, Maple City Glen Lake 35
Final: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Chassell 55, Waterford Lakes 51
Adrian Lenawee Christian 46, Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart 44 (OT)
Final: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Saginaw Heritage 46, Grosse Pointe North 28
East Lansing 60, Wayne Memorial 52
Final: Saturday, 12:15 p.m.
Jackson Northwest 56, Michigan Center 47
Detroit Country Day 70, Kingsley 54
Final: Saturday, 6:15 p.m.