That loss came last winter to Grand Haven in the Class A quarterfinals.
East Lansing coach Rob Smith said his team, which won the Class A state title in 2010, is still stinging from that defeat.
“They’re the only team we’ve lost to in the playoffs the last few years, and it leaves a real sour taste in your mouth,” said Smith, whose Trojans will again face off against the Buccaneers tonight in Class A quarterfinal action at Lansing Eastern High School. “Our kids are competitive, and they’ve worked real hard in the offseason to step up, take advantage of the opportunities and build for this moment.
“Quite frankly, we’ve always thought Grand Haven would come out, be the No. 1-ranked team and go through their schedule. We tried to set our goal at being able to compete at that level.”
The top-ranked Buccaneers (22-1) have lived up to expectations this year, while East Lansing has exceeded expectations. The Trojans’ only four losses have come to state-ranked teams — Lansing Waverly, St. Johns, Detroit Country Day and Portland.
They’ve hit their stride in the state tournament, battling a brutal slate of games.
“Our district had the second- and third-ranked teams in Class A,” Smith said. “Between Waverly, St. Johns, DeWitt and ourselves, there were four league champions in the district. It felt great to get out of the district, then of course the regional with Gull Lake, a proud program that had just moved up to Class A. They gave us a heck of a game. Then East Kentwood, who had a really nice season.”
To read more of this story, see today's print or E-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.