STURGIS – Jaida Hampton had high expectations for this year’s state tournament run for the East Lansing girls basketball team.
And seeing the Trojans not have a chance to reach those expectations is something that didn’t sit well as the postseason journey came to a halt Thursday night.
East Lansing never recovered from a sluggish start while suffering a 67-59 loss to Kalamazoo Central in a Class A regional final at Sturgis High School.
“I don’t like to lose at all and I’m sure my team doesn’t either,” Hampton said. “We just had such high expectations of getting farther. To see that end and to sit there and watch (them get their trophy) was hard.”
Hampton finished with a game-high 24 points for the Trojans, while freshman Sanaya Gregory and junior Amelia McNutt each added 11 points for East Lansing (21-3).
The Trojans, who were an honorable mention ranked team in the final Associated Press state poll, never led and couldn’t dig themselves out of a big early hole.
Kalamazoo Central had built a 19-point lead by the opening minute of the second quarter and East Lansing spent the whole night trying to claw its way back.
East Lansing got as close as five with just over six minutes remaining following a basket by Gregory. But Kalamazoo managed to weather each of the pushes the Trojans made to earn a spot in next week’s quarterfinal at Don Johnson Fieldhouse.
“We just didn’t get the shots that we wanted,” East Lansing coach Rob Smith said. “We just weren’t keeping them off the glass and they were getting open looks in the corner they were knocking down. I’m so proud of the girls because we cut it to five.”
While there was plenty of disappointment for the Trojans that their run was over, they are optimistic about the future. East Lansing didn’t have a senior on its roster and expects to have everyone back to make a run next season.
“Unfortunately I think our lack of experience and our lack of maturity and mental toughness finally caught up to us tonight in terms of experience,” Smith said. “I think the kids, even though they are feeling sad right now, are really excited about the potential and getting back to work.”
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.