EAST LANSING – Aazh Nye couldn’t quite get going offensively In the opening half Wednesday.
But the junior guard kept fighting.
And she found a way to help the East Lansing girls basketball team keep its season alive.
Nye did all her scoring in the second half and hit key free throws late as the Trojans picked up a 47-36 victory over CAAC Blue rival Grand Ledge in a Class A district semifinal at East Lansing.
“I wanted to try to input something into the game,” Nye said. “I didn’t score until the third quarter and that’s very unusual. I felt like I needed to step up somehow and knocking down some free throws for my teammates. I’m glad I did.”
Nye had seven of her nine points from the free-throw line during the final quarter to help East Lansing (19-2) get past Grand Ledge (15-6) for a third time and earn a spot in Friday’s district final.
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“Aazh battled through some frustrations tonight in terms of her regular offensive output,” East Lansing coach Rob Smith said. “When the game was on the line and she needed to come up with some big free throws, she was able to do that and keep her composure. That was huge, and she’s done that in a multitude of important games this year.”
Jaida Hampton had a team-high 10 points for East Lansing, which won its seventh straight since a loss to Williamston in late January.
Makenzie Todd had 11 points and Courtney Sharland scored 10 to lead Grand Ledge, which gave itself a chance to avenge a pair of regular-season losses by double digits to CAAC Blue champion East Lansing. The Comets, the CAAC Blue runner-up, were within 10 points most of the second half and trailed by six with 1:18 remaining.
“One of the things we’ve been stressing since the two times we played them is we need to play a full game and we need to make sure we’re in there in the fourth quarter and make them make plays to win the game,” said Grand Ledge coach David Jones, whose team won 12 of its final 14 games with the lone losses being to East Lansing.
“We had our opportunities to cut into (their lead) a little bit and we came up a little short.”
Todd hit a pair of free throws with 1:18 left that had Grand Ledge within six. The Comets wouldn’t score again and East Lansing was able to hit free throws to close out the win. Nye made three free throws during the closing stages, while Sanaya Gregory and Aaliyah Nye also scored from the charity stripe in the final 1:12 of the contest.
“It was ugly, but I’m just proud we came out with the win,” Aazh Nye said. “We had fortitude throughout the game through adversity. We really just worked together to pull out the win.
“It’s not easy playing a team three times and beating them three times in a row. You get better and more experienced with your opponent each time. That was something we had to overcome.”
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.