Laney passed the test with a strong defense and bench, routing Taylor County 60-28 on Friday night to advance to the next round.
Laney will play in the third round Tuesday.
The Lady Wildcats used a strong fourth quarter to run away from the Lady Vikings, following a tighter third quarter that included tired starters on both sides. Laney managed a team-low 10 points in the third, compared to Taylor County’s six.
“There wasn’t as much scoring in the third, and we got tired ourselves,” Smart said. “Something like that is crucial in the playoffs. We came together, though. We had a better bench.”
Taylor County used a flex offense that called for driving to the basket, forcing Laney into more defensive pressure in the paint. The Lady Wildcats’ combination of Khadijiah Cave and Simone Smith stood tall, not allowing more than eight points in any quarter.
“(Taylor County) has a disciplined team,” Smart said. “We had a lot of fouls, and they forced us into a more total defensive effort. It was a chance to see something we could see again.”
Cave led Laney (28-0) with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Smith added 10, while Aliyah Collier had nine.
Taylor County (16-14) benefited from Xiondra Smith’s 11 points, the only Lady Viking in double digits.
Laney jumped to a 17-6 lead midway through the first quarter and grabbed a nine-point advantage after one, scoring a game-high 19 points in the first period. The Lady Wildcats cruised to a 35-14 lead at halftime.
Laney’s defense remained strong through a tough third quarter, allowing the Lady Wildcats to maintain a lead of at least 20 throughout the second half. The final score proved to be the largest margin of the game.
For Laney, the preparation of early-round playoff games could prove beneficial to a team yearning to get over the hump in the late rounds.
“We feel like, the boys did it, so it’s our time to get it done,” Smith said. “The chemistry on the team is great, and we know what we need to do to win.”