Monday, February 25, 2013
There are only six GHSA teams still playing high school basketball in the Augusta area, and one of the area's most inexperienced squads is one of them.
The Laney boys took home last year's state title before most of the team graduated and moved on.
No doubt, it's been a season of trial and error for the young Wildcats, but here they are in the Elite Eight after thrashing ninth ranked Taylor County on the road over the weekend.
So, the Laney faithful is trusting these boys to get them to a fourth straight Final Four, and the Cats aren't feeling so young anymore.
"A lot of people said we're young, but that's not an excuse to us," said freshman guard Zep Jasper. "Like Coach Hunter always says, 'People say y'all can win it next year. If y'all lose this year, you can win next year. Well, we're trying to win this year, not next year.'"
Coach Jerry Hunter added, "Freshmen, sophomores and juniors...that only matters in the Guidance Office. When you're playing basketball, who plays the hardest is normally where it happens, in terms of the effort. We stressed total team effort the entire year, and a lot of the experience we couldn't substitute for earlier, now they have their lumps and bumps. So, they're starting to gel, but we still got work we gotta do."
The best part for this group...no road game this Wednesday for their Elite Eight game.
Fourth seed Macon County comes to Augusta and gives the Wildcats one more home game, and after the way they've played lately, the Laney's excited for one more game on home court.
Senior guard Mike Lewis said, "It feels good to be back home playing in front of our home crowd. I mean, we went on the road and beat a hard team, and to bring it back home and have a home game...it feels good. We should be able to win."
The Wildcats are one of four GHSA boys teams playing in the next couple days. They host Wednesday, as does second ranked Aquinas. Meanwhile, Washington County and Jenkins County hit the road.
On the ladies side, there's only a pair remaining, and they join their boys teams in the Elite Eight. Laney hosts Tuesday night, and Washington County goes to Southwest Macon.