The reward was bigger – a state playoff spot – but the result in the third meeting was the same as the other two: a Laney win.
Playing rival Josey for the third time this season, the Wildcats beat the Eagles 83-59 on Wednesday night in the Region 3-AA Tournament at Laney. The Wildcats qualified for the state playoffs with the win and advanced to play Dublin at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
“We are grateful to make it back, but our goal is to win the region,” Laney coach Jerry Hunter said.
Josey was ahead by four points early, but an 18-2 Wildcat run was the difference as Laney (17-8) led 22-10 early in the second quarter and turned the game into a rout from there; Josey never got to within single digits after the spurt.
Jervon Walker was the run’s igniter, tipping in shots and adding second-chance scores.
Once Walker did his part, Laney’s swarming defense made steals or forced lobs that flew out of bounds thanks to pressure. The Wildcats used the combination to pad their lead.
During Laney’s run, solid passing helped the half-court offense, with interior dishes helping Jaylen Taylor easily get in two points.
Josey (13-13) did cut the deficit to 10 in the second quarter on a Xavier Furse field goal, but all the momentum was gone after Collin Young snatched it away with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded.
Up 44-28 at the break, Laney cruised in the second half, expanding its advantage on a JaShawn Brooks 3. Brooks had 16 points in the game, making all nine of his free-throw attempts. Only Zaphaniah Jasper had more points for the Wildcats, with the freshman posting 18 points to match Josey’s Jaylin Daniels for the game high.
The Wildcats played Dublin less than a week ago, losing this past Friday in its final game before the region tournament.
But a win this time would put Laney into the region championship with the chance to earn a No. 1 seed on its home floor.