Laney’s collective efforts have given the team a win streak and confidence entering this week’s crucial region tournament.
The Wildcats are riding an 11-game winning streak as they eye the Region 4-AA tournament that began with a single game Monday and kicks into full gear Wednesday at Josey. Laney will play the winner of Monday night’s Harlem-Screven County game Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The streak features mostly routs in what’s typically a tight region schedule, including two sizable victories over rival Josey and a 10-point win over Glenn Hills for the Spartans’ only loss this season. Laney is 22-3 overall and 13-1 in the region to enter the tournament as a No. 2 seed behind Glenn Hills, which took the top seed on a tiebreaker.
“I’m seeing greater attention to detail from the guys,” Laney coach Shawn Parks said. “I think more than anything, since we’ve been on the winning streak, everybody’s had the opportunity to play. We might have to shorten up the bench as we get deeper into the region tournament, but they are paying attention to detail, which is a good thing.”
Laney’s players are buying into a team-first mentality that results in different leading scorers on a weekly basis. Seniors Donald Henley, D’Juan Griffin and Ronnie Walker have been the top producers and leaders, but the Wildcats are capable of getting points from a deep bench that embraces its role.
“We’re staying together and keeping our focus,” Henley said. “We just play together and keep our head up and work hard in practice every day to prepare for the games.”
Preparation is key for the always-intense region tournament, and Laney will need to stick to its plan of defense, hustle and team play to advance past a slew of competitive programs aiming to earn a playoff seed.
“I think we get better as a team every game and that’s good for us going down the road,” Griffin said. “We’re looking at it one game at a time and take it one game at a time.”
A couple close losses to its rival have not fazed Josey’s girls, coach Jawan Bailey said.
The Lady Eagles stormed back to give Laney a tough game Jan. 13 before ultimately falling by seven. A back-and-forth rematch this past Friday again went to Laney by six, giving Josey its second region loss entering this week’s tournament at its home gymnasium.
Josey is 22-3 and all three of its losses have been to Laney, which is 26-0.
After responding with a rout of Jefferson County this past Saturday, Josey enters the Region 4-AA girls side as the No. 2 seed and will play Monday night’s winner of Glenn Hills and Screven County on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Laney is the No. 1 seed and will face the winner of Tuesday’s Westside-Jefferson County game Friday at 7.
Josey has given Laney a fight in all three matchups and is now battle-tested entering this week. Tykedra Rolland scored 26 points in Friday’s game against Laney and is averaging 15.1 points per game, while twin sister Rhykeria Rolland is averaging 11.2 points.
“The girls are focused,” Bailey said after the Laney game. “They know what’s at stake and they’ve been wanting this for a long time, so we’ll shake this off and they’ll be fine, and we’ll get back to work.”
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.