Of Class AA’s ranked basketball teams, two are on the cusp of a noteworthy feat as the regular season concludes this week: the girls from No. 2 Laney and No. 3 Kendrick are both one game from completing unbeaten regular seasons.
Perfect regular seasons or winning a regular-season region titles mean little in basketball, since all teams typically compete in region tournaments, and technically, all have potential to emerge state champion from there, despite regular-season record.
Some regions reward regular-season region and subregion winners with byes into their tournament semifinals, and consequently, guarantees into the state playoffs. But if nothing else, unbeaten regular seasons are reasons to strut.
So, let’s brag on the Region 3-AA Wildcats and 5-AA Cherokees — ranked behind No. 1 Wesleyan (20-4) and ahead of No. 4 Calhoun (21-1) — and examine how they’ve run the table so far:
– Laney (23-0): As the Wildcats prepare to play at Dublin at 6 p.m. Friday, they’ve nearly doubled opponents’ scores on average, 67-34. Only three teams have come within 10, including Westside-Augusta, which lost 52-42 on Friday, though Westside’s Jahmia Bradley’s 12 points reportedly put her over 1,000 for her career. The Wildcats have run the table in subregion B at 6-0, twice beating Harlem, Screven County and Westside.
This all hasn’t been that surprising, considering the Wildcats have 12th consecutive state playoff appearances and four consecutive semifinal showings under decades-long coach Otis Smart, in addition to winning 26 straight at one point last season.
The Wildcats never have won state, but have reached 11 semifinals, including the last four.
– Kendrick (24-0): By beating visiting Temple in a region game at 6 p.m. Friday, the Cherokees will have achieved regular-season perfection and an 8-0 run in subregion A. Slightly tad more dominant than Laney, Kendrick has outscored opponents 74-38 and allowed only Hardaway and Central (Ala.) within single digits, 45-39 and 72-66, respectively.
The final piece in the regular-season puzzle isn’t automatic, though the Cherokees have clobbered Temple 72-14 and 72-18 the last two times they’ve played.