Laney girls basketball coach Otis Smart insisted his team hadn't played well since knocking off Glenn Hills, one of the top Class AAAA teams in Georgia.
Friday night, the Lady Wildcats showed him they're still hungry to win.
Laney held third-ranked Richmond Academy to 23 percent shooting (19-of-83), and the Lady Wildcats hit 12 of 13 free throws down the stretch to upset the Lady Musketeers 56-50.
Because Laney and Richmond Academy split the season series, the No. 1 and 2 seeds for next week's Region 3-AAA tournament will be determined by a coin flip at 9 a.m. today during a coaches' meeting. The top two seeds automatically advance to the state tournament.
Sheena Freeman, who led Laney with 14 points, said she was happy the team with something to prove reappeared.
"We came out hungry," said Freeman, who scored 12 points in the second half before fouling out. "We felt like we shouldn't have lost the last game to them. We knew the obstacles we had to face, so everybody had to give 100 percent."
That's exactly what the Lady Wildcats (17-8, 11-1 Region 3-AAA) got. Trailing 24-19 midway through the second quarter, Laney crawled back into the game and entered halftime with a one-point deficit.
From there, the Lady Wildcats wore down the Lady Musketeers with defense.
"We kept changing it up," said Smart, whose team got strong performances from Danielle Garret (12 points), Sabrina Wilson (11) and Samantha Wilson (10). "We'd run a 3-2, a zero-man, a 2-3 and a 1-3-1. We threw everything at them, because (Richmond Academy) is pretty solid. They're a disciplined team, but we're a disciplined team, too."
It finally showed midway through the fourth quarter. With a 39-37 lead, the Lady Wildcats went on a 15-3 run during the next 3:13 to hand the Lady Musketeers (18-5, 11-1) their first region loss of the year.
Part of that came on a strong performance from 6-foot-3 junior center Shawanda Geter, who didn't score but pulled down a team-high seven rebounds and blocked seven shots for Laney.
Meanwhile, Richmond Academy never got its shot to fall and was just 8-of-46 from the field (17.8 percent) in the second half.
"That's a nightmare," said Lady Musketeers coach Pat Rivers, whose squad got 15 points from center Marie Reid. "I feel like we had good shot selection. They just didn't go in. But I'd rather have that happen (Friday) than next week in the tournament."
In the boys game, Darrin Shine scored 31 points, and Richmond Academy held off a late rally to beat Laney 73-61.
With Shine on the bench in foul trouble, Laney cut the lead to six with 4:11 to play. But the senior was put back in the game, and the Musketeers pulled away. Jacob Ross and P.J. Kelsey combined for 26 points in the winning effort.
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216.
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