Shawn Parks couldn’t help but smile from the bench as a region title was within grasp in the closing minutes.
Laney was able to overcome the top-ranked team in Class AA for the second time in a row, this time in the most important meeting of the season, as the Wildcats shut down Glenn Hills 55-41 on Saturday night in the Region 4-AA championship at Josey.
The victory was Laney’s 16th in a row and, more importantly, gave the program another region title and No. 1 seed entering the state playoffs.
“It solidifies the effort we’ve been putting forth and the fact that everybody bought in and wanted everybody to touch the floor,” Laney coach Parks said. “They put forth the effort to give all the guys a chance to get on the floor, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Glenn Hills, which entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed with an automatic playoff bid after winning the regular season, was toppled for the second time by Laney for just the Spartans’ second loss this season.
Laney (25-3) got past the height and length of Glenn Hills (24-2) by implementing its speed on both ends of the floor and using its deep bench to maintain the intensity with fresh players. The Wildcats constantly put pressure on the Spartans, while Glenn Hills also went 14-40 from the free throw line.
“Our defensive intensity really came to play,” said Laney’s D’Juan Griffin, who scored a game-high 13 points. “First time we played them, we didn’t really have our defense, but tonight we played our defense to our full ability.”
Ronnie Walker added 12 points and Donald Henley had eight for Laney. Timmy Sellers led Glenn Hills with 11 points.
The Wildcats staked an early lead at 18-6 and advanced it to double digits at 21-10 with three minutes left in the second quarter. The lead grew to 26-12 at one point before Glenn Hills’ John Whitehead drained a 3-pointer just before the half to trail 26-15.
The Spartans came out of the break with more intensity and stayed within 11 at 37-26 early in the fourth on a Sellers putback slam, but the Wildcats stuck to their plan and slowly inched away. Griffin made a layup with 5:50 left for a 45-30 lead, and a 12-4 run resulted in a 49-30 advantage in the closing minutes.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.