LANSING – Brandon Johns and the No. 2-ranked East Lansing have become familiar with teams making late charges.
So there was no panic Wednesday when Waverly made its late surge.
Johns and the Trojans used a game-ending 9-1 run to pull away in the closing minutes for a 57-45 victory over Waverly in a Class A district semifinal at Don Johnson Fieldhouse.
“I think we’re so used to being in this situation where it just comes natural,” Johns said. “I think we’re pretty used to those situations.”
Johns finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds and Deandre Robinson scored 18 points for East Lansing, which advances to face CAAC Blue rival Everett in Friday’s district final.
Waverly pulled within four with 3:56 remaining after Mike Pete hit a pair of free throws. Robinson made two from the charity stripe for East Lansing with 3:04 remaining. Johns followed with a pair of inside baskets and Xzavier Odom added a dunk while helping the Trojans (22-0) prevail.
“We’ve got a lot of great players and we’ve got a lot of great ball handlers,” East Lansing junior Malik Jones said. “Last year Everett beat us and we just remember that. We’ve got to keep fighting every time we get down or the game gets close, we’ve just got to keep our composure and keep working.”
Senior Jaden Sutton had 19 points to lead Waverly. The Warriors weren’t sure if they would have Sutton’s services for Wednesday after he sprained his ankle Monday. Sutton hadn’t practiced the last two days and had been on crutches, but fought through it to help give Waverly a shot against the Trojans.
“They are a good basketball team,” Waverly coach Craig Fields said. “I think we ran out of gas there late. Our guys battled. I’m proud of our guys. That’s the No. 2-ranked team in the state that we played well against the last two games.”
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