There’s consistency, and then there’s the Laney girls basketball program.
Year after year, the Lady Wildcats are one of the state’s best teams. This season, Laney reached the state semifinals for the fifth year in a row and finished as the runner-up.
Of course, there are different stars for these seasons. In recent years, there’s been Mykala Jones or DeKoya Mack. This time, Khadijiah Cave as the headliner.
At her final season with Laney, Cave, who has committed to Baylor, averaged 23.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 7.6 blocks per game to be chosen as The Augusta Chronicle’s Georgia Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
“It was my best season overall,” Cave said. “It was the most fun and the most talented team we’ve had. It’s a season I won’t ever forget.”
At 6-foot-4, Cave had the height advantage over most folks. But teammates and fellow post players Simone Smith and Wynetta Wright helped Cave develop the grit to use strength to also gain advantages.
She was at her best in the state semifinals against Kendrick. The senior had 31 points and also reached double digits in boards and blocks as the Lady Wildcats ended their semifinal slump; for four years in a row, Laney lost just a game away from the state championship.
Cave’s huge season happened as more expectations and responsibilities were put on her shoulders after important players from the previous year graduated.
“First I was just another player,” Cave said. “But I got older and had to step up, to be a leader. I had to take charge, show discipline and courage. They’re following in my shadow, so if I’m not doing the right thing, my team won’t do the right thing. I had to do the right thing when nobody’s looking.”
The right thing led to a long playoff march and a scholarship from Baylor. The signing garnered attention, but Cave said she didn’t let outsiders get to her, either positively or negatively. Instead, she would do what she always does: rebound, shoot her accurate hook shot and block many, many shots.
In short, she would dominate.
“I didn’t listen to publicity – I knew why they called me,” Cave said of Baylor. “People will always have something to say, good or bad, so I didn’t feed into it. I’m just going to play how I play.”