Rickea Jackson and Gabrielle Elliott lead Edison past Hamady, 54-31, in Class C semifinals
East Lansing – Playing on a big stage can be a bit overwhelming at times, especially for a young team.
Don’t tell that to Detroit Edison. The Pioneers are comprised of nine freshmen, one sophomore and two juniors.
Taking on perennial contender Flint Hamady in a Class C semifinal at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, the Pioneers (20-5) were unfazed from the start. They jumped out to a 9-0 lead after the first quarter and cruised to a 54-31 victory.
In the Class C state final, Edison will face Pewamo-Westphalia, who beat Maple City Glen Lake in the second semifinal of the day, at 4:00pm on Saturday afternoon back at the Breslin Center.
Edison coach Monique Brown said that her team’s tough schedule helped prepare the Pioneers for their playoff run and added that she was most pleased with her team’s effort on Thursday.
“They’ve been preparing for this and we’ve talked about it throughout the season,” she said. “We had a really tough rough part of our schedule in the middle of the schedule, we played (Detroit) King, we played Midland Dow, Southfield A&T and we won some of those games and we lost of them, but I told them that was in preparation for games like today. They really came out and played really hard and I always told them, no matter what, I don’t want to hear anyone say we’re talented, I want people to see how hard we play.”
After a dominant defensive effort in the first quarter, led by six points from sophomore Rickea Jackson, freshman Gabrielle Elliott took over in the second quarter.
Elliott is the younger sister of Mr. Basketball candidate Greg Elliot of Detroit East English Village Prep. She scored 13 points as Edison would take a 28-8 lead at halftime.
Elliott said that her strong effort in the second quarter wasn’t a result of her doing anything out of the ordinary.
“That’s just stuff I worked on in practice and my teammates got me the ball,” she said. “It really wasn’t anything different, we played as a team and they knew I was scoring, so they got the ball to me. I’m just happy that they realized that and that we got the win, but there really wasn’t anything special about it.”
Elliott didn’t slow down in the second half as she finished with 25 points, and Jackson, who was celebrating her birthday, had 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Pioneers would all but put the game out of reach as Elliott scored seven points to spark an 11-2 run to open the second half.
“It would be amazing because everyone doubts us,” Jackson said of the possibility of winning a state title. “They said we were going to lose to Sandusky, they didn’t make it to us, and lose to Blissfield by two. We’re just tired of them doubting us, so that would be amazing to us because we’re so young, we don’t have any seniors, we’re just so young and we want to prove everyone wrong.”
Brown said that after arriving in East Lansing a day early, she second guessed her decision to do so, worrying about her team’s focus on Wednesday night, but those concerns were quickly put to rest on Thursday.
“I walked past (hotel rooms) around 12:30 last night and I heard voices and I said ‘Oh my goodness, was this a bad idea, coming here a day early, we’re going to be sluggish’,” she said. “As much as I fuss and fight with them, they always, at the end of the day, prove me wrong. So I commend them on that, for being ready and staying ready.”
Flint Hamady (19-6) was led by 10 points and 10 rebounds from Aryana Naylor and 10 points from Deajah Cofield.
Pewamo-Westphalia 64, Maple City Glen Lake 51
East Lansing - After a slow start to Thursday's Class C semifinal, Pewamo-Westphalia used a strong second half effort to lead the way past Maple City Glen Lake.
After trailing by as many as six points in the first half, the Pirates outscored Glen Lake 40-26 in the second half as the Pirates shot 10-for-19 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to advance.
Pewamo-Westphalia head coach Steve Eklund said that after a tough start to the game for his team, he felt the Pirates were much more comfortable with their enviornment later in the game.
“Throughout the season, we tend to say the same thing over and over,” he said. “You’re never going to win the game in the first four minutes, it’s possession by possession and Glen Lake came out and just came after us tonight. They were outhustling us – and that’s one of our goals, never get outworked – and I’d say for the first 8-10 minutes, we were getting outhustled, they weren’t necessarily more physical, but they quicker to every loose ball. Sometimes you have to adjust to your opponent and I think that took us a little time to settle into the environment, get a feel for our opponent, but once we got a few shots to fall and started getting a few stops on the defensive end, things kind of just went from there.”
Pewamo-Westphalia (24-2) was led by 24 points and 12 rebounds from Emily Spitzley, while Brenna Wirth chipped in with 13 points in the win.
Glen Lake (23-4) was led by 14 points from Allie Bonzelet and 13 points from Jennifer LaCross.