With each steal and deflected ball, the Laney girls basketball team widened the gap.
In a little more than 10 minutes, the Lady Wildcats went from down three points to up by 19 at halftime.
Laney’s defensive pressure and inside game overwhelmed Aiken, 64-35, Monday evening at Laney in the Holiday Round Ball Classic.
The Lady Wildcats next play Richmond Academy in a semifinal at 4 p.m. today.
“We’re kind of rough when we press,” Katice Williams said. “We know where to get to.”
Four players scored at least nine points for the Lady Wildcats, who embarked on a 24-2 run after a Taylor Trowell jumper gave Aiken a 13-12 lead.
With turnover after turnover – and layup following layup – Laney (8-1) kept adding easy scores.
But it was Simone Smith’s performance that got the Lady Wildcats going early, when she dominated inside for five baskets in the first quarter. She finished with 12 points in the game.
“I was very excited,” Smith said. “I was talking more on the floor.”
Erin Gilmore scored 17 for Aiken (3-7) and had success driving inside, but the Lady Hornets couldn’t keep pace.
Khadijah Cave and Chelsea Maultsby controlled the boards as guards DeKoya Mack, Jermeka Gibson and Williams forced turnovers and combined to hit five three pointers. The trio, led by Mack’s 13 points, totaled 32 points and spearheaded a 35-10 advantage in the second and third quarters.
The backcourt pressure near Aiken’s hoop kept the Lady Wildcats’ post players fresh and out of foul trouble.
They also sometimes joined the press, as Cave stole one pass near midcourt before Mack finished a putback chance.
“All of them are doing well,” Laney coach Otis Smart said. “We’re getting the chemistry right.”