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Laney girls hope to break through in semifinals

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When Simone Smith looks at her hand, she can envision the class ring.

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Khadijah Cave (right) runs a defensive drill during Thursday's practice.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Khadijah Cave (right) runs a defensive drill during Thursday's practice.

TEAM PAGE: Laney Wildcats

But that’s not the only ring she wants.

This is her last chance to get a championship and help end the Laney girls basketball program’s semifinal struggles.

Today, the Lady Wildcats play Kendrick at 4 p.m. at George College with a spot in the Class AA state title game on the line. Laney has lost in the state semifinals in each of the past four seasons.

“Our boys had the heart to get it,” Smith said, talking about the boys state title a year ago. “We have to get one, too. It’ll be a legacy nobody would ever forget.”

The Laney boys are also playing today, as the Wildcats meet Greater Atlanta Christian at 8:30.

With the Laney girls, they hope to end those string of losses. The first three were to Buford; the other was to Lovett, who was beaten by Kendrick in the quarterfinals. Laney and Kendrick are a combined 59-0 this season.

Lady Wildcats coach Otis Smart has alerted his team of the Lady Cherokees’ press and speed, and he emphasized the importance of quick, precise passes during Thursday’s practice. He also bemoaned dribbles toward the corners, where Kendrick would trap and force turnovers.

Laney has had its own great success with the press, which has worked with strong post play from Smith and Khadijiah Cave and steady guard play from Destiny Brewton, Aliyah Collier and Gemiya Bowman to give the Lady Wildcats a 29-0 record.

A 30-0 mark would mean an appearance in the final against Thomasville or Wesleyan, but the Lady Wildcats know the semifinal game has been a tall hurdle.

Still, Smart thinks this team could be the one to get it.

“We’re trying to get over that barrier,” Smart said. “We’re just wishing and hoping this is our time.”

FRIDAY’S GAMES

GHSA

Boys

• Aquinas vs. St. Francis, 5:30 p.m. at Kennesaw State in a Class A private semifinal

• Laney vs. Greater Atlanta Christian, 8:30 p.m. at Georgia College in a Class AA semifinal

• Jenkins County vs. Wilkinson County, 8:30 p.m. at Fort Valley State in a Class A public semifinal

Girls

• Laney vs. Kendrick, 4 p.m. at Georgia College in a Class AA semifinal

GISA

Boys

• Curtis Baptist vs. Georgia Christian, 1 p.m. at Mercer University in a Class A semifinal

• Westminster vs. Loganville Christian Academy, 8:30 p.m. at Mercer University in a Class AAA semifinal


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