If Laney needed a statement win to stake its claim as the area's best girls basketball team, it got it on Tuesday night. The Lady Wildcats dominated Region 3-AAAA unbeaten Glenn Hills from the opening tip and cruised to a 65-48 win in the semifinals of the Holiday Roundball Classic at Josey.
The Lady Wildcats, the third-ranked team in Class AA, jumped out to a 16-0 lead to start the game and never looked back. Their swarming defense suffocated the Lady Spartans, keeping them off the scoreboard for more than six minutes to start the game.
Laney found success running a box-and-one defense on Glenn Hills' leading scorer Jessica Morton, limiting her to only two points in the first half. It was a strategy coach Otis Smart says his team has never used to stifle any other player.
"We had to set something up to wear her down. It worked out for us," Smart said.
The Lady Wildcats applied pressure throughout the entire first quarter and led 23-4 at the end of the period.
Laney's fastbreak offense would ultimately force Morton to sit for most of the second quarter after picking up three fouls.
After going into the half leading 40-13, Laney extended its margin to as much as 33 points in the third quarter. The Lady Wildcats (9-0) were able to get to the basket at will against a Glenn Hills defense that appeared sluggish at times.
"We didn't come out focused tonight," said Lady Spartans coach Bernard Bowman. "We didn't do the little things well. That's something we're going to have to work on."
Laney's Jermika Gibson led all scorers with 18 points, including four of the Lady Wildcats' five 3-pointers. Jones came off the bench to add 11.
Brandi Lamb scored 15 for Glenn Hills (9-2), which is 6-0 in Region 3-AAAA play. Morton finished with 12 points.
Laney advances to today's final, where it will play Hephzibah at 7 p.m. The boys final will follow.
Reach Joey Jones at (706) 823-3304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.