East Lansing — Before a raucous home gathering, the East Lansing Trojans (26-1) showed all they were not fluke, as they toppled Detroit Renaissance 65-54 in the MSHAA Girl’s Class A state final at the Breslin Center.
Renaissance (23-3) was going for its first state title since moving to Class A two years ago. It last won a state title in 2005, when it was in Class B.
East Lansing had never been to the Finals or won a title, but that all changed after the referee blew the game -ending whistle and the home crowd went into a frenzy.
“It was like a home game,” East Lansing coach Robert Smith said. “The crowd was one of the best I have ever seen and they surely uplifted this team. We knew Renaissance was a very good team, and we had to make sure they did not get too many put backs, we had to block out and, most importantly, not make too many mistakes.”
One player that did not make any mistakes, but made all the plays down the stretch that changed the game was guard Malika Glover, who tossed in 25 points.
Renaissance had control of the game leading at halftime 27-25 and held that margin until the last minutes of the fourth quarter.
But in the fourth quarter Glover scored 11 in the fourth quarter to lead a furious comeback.
“We were going to play the fourth like we had nothing to lose,” Glover said. “Things just started flowing for us. We wanted it really, really bad. We switched from zone defense to man to and, back to zone and I think that confused them.”
Glover scored seven straight to open the final quarter to give East Lansing a six-point lead. But it was the Trojans’ full-court pressure that caught Renaissance off-guard and led to its eventually downfall.
Renaissance coach Diane Jones observed, “She (Malika Glover) was awesome, hit all the big shots down the stretch and controlled the ball. We didn’t know how to handle her.”
What Glover did was no fluke, she tossed in 29 in the Class A semifinal against Detroit Pershing; no matter, the Phoenix were focused on Klarissa Bell, who was named Miss Basketball last week.
She was held to 14 points by Renaissance senior leader Lorreal Jones, who contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The problem for the Phoenix was not getting running the offense through Jones more as well as the second half press that they never found a way to negotiate.
“Looking back, we could have done a lot of thing differently,” Jones said. “We gave it all we had but it was not enough. Still I think this team had a great run and I’m proud of how far we came.”
Bell averaged 20 points and nine rebounds during the regular season was happy with her team’s victory.
“We beat teams by 30 points all last season,” she noted, “but we lost in the stats last year. This year we were mentally tough enough to play in close games and this was one of them.”
Renaissance outshot East Lansing, 32-19, in the first half, but managed only a 27-25 lead at halftime. East Lansing didn’t handle itself with poise and implemented smothering press that carried them to victory.
“We had a chance to really get to them in the first half,” Renaissance coach Jones said, ‘but we missed too many shots. In the second half we turned the ball over more than we would have liked, and we have always played better against the press than we did.”
Leland Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.