The Cross Creek and Laney girls are undefeated heading into the GHSA state basketball playoffs, which begin today. The Lady Backs are at home against Baldwin at 6 p.m. in Class AAAA, and Laney’s home game against Toombs County is at 7 p.m. in Class AA.
“The record is great, and I’m happy for us,” Cross Creek coach Kim Schlein said. “But now the work really begins.”
A combined 53-0, Cross Creek and Laney have gotten to the playoffs through different paths.
At Laney, Khadijiah Cave and Simone Smith dominate the post and are complemented by improving guard play.
At Cross Creek, the Lady Backs make up for size with speed with Ashleigh Outler, Breanna Bryant and others.
In the playoffs, Cross Creek wants to find the right amount of that speed – fast enough to get by foes, but not so quick that it turns the ball over.
As she watched a practice drill Monday, Schlein counted the number of turnovers. She’ll make her players run for those mistakes.
Along with minimizing turnovers, Schlein emphasizes free-throw shooting. As her players go to a hoop to practice foul shots, shooting 10 at a time, the expectations are clear: make at least seven. Make all 10, and there’s Powerade as a reward.
“We’re always running and shooting,” Schlein said with a smile.
Both Cross Creek and Laney have been winning in routs for most of the season. Sixteen of the Lady Backs’ games have been won by at least 20 points; the Lady Wildcats have 21 such wins.
There have been close ones, with Cross Creek edging Hephzibah in a region semifinal and Laney holding off Dublin for the region title.
Laney coach Otis Smart welcomed the Dublin game – chances are, there are more of those on the way in the chase for a state championship.
“You can’t play perfect every game,” he said. “Now we’ve got to learn to play under pressure. But I like this team.”