Despite playing through a tight game early, Laney remained patient and used adjustments to pull away when it mattered most.
Laney held Benedictine to single digits in two quarters for a 72-48 win Wednesday night in the first round of the Class AA State Playoffs.
With the win, the Wildcats advance to the second round to face Taylor County on the road Saturday.
Zephaniah Jasper led Laney with 16 points. Christian Keeling added 13, while Jashawn Brooks and Jaylen Taylor each had 11.
Benedictine used fast pace and mass substitutions to give Laney trouble in the first quarter. The Cadets were able to force turnovers with a full-court press and physical style of play, tying with the Wildcats at 15 after the first.
However, Laney used its tight defense and attacking the basket to remain steady, allowing Benedictine to falter as it lost its tempo. The Wildcats held a 33-23 lead at the half.
“We live on defense. We push that, and we hang our hat on that,” coach Jerry Hunter said. “We made adjustments and they started to wear.”
Benedictine fell back to a zone defense in the second half and Laney adjusted again, sinking outside jumpers for a 50-32 lead after the third quarter. The Wildcats held a lead as large as 29 midway through the fourth quarter.
“We turned it up a notch to see if they would adjust,” Hunter said. “Once their adrenaline wore off, they went to zone, and we took it from there.”
“It’s a good win for a young team. It’s important to win at home.”
Ellison Burns led Benedictine with 14 points. Brad Stewart added 11.
Coming off a 63-59 loss to Westside in the Region 3-AA Championship on Saturday, Hunter said it was important to come back strong and build confidence in the first round. The players echoed the statement.
“We learned from the loss,” Keeling said. “It was experience for us, and we took it. We have faith in each other, and we’re trying to go far now.”