The last day of regular season high school basketball did not disappoint as our city's most intense rivalry (Laney vs Josey) provided a fitting end to a captivating journey. I've told many that I don't think Laney has played in front of an empty seat during a local game this season. But as expected, the crowd and the electricity at Josey was unique and special. I talked to several friends who arrived 1.5 hours before the girls tipped off to be sure to get a seat. The walls and halls were stacked several deep and the home and visiting crowds each played a major factor in the game.
Josey's fans had the most to cheer about during the first half. Senior dynamo Darius Williams showed it is possible to dominate a game whether or not the shots are falling. He was relentless in attacking coach Buck Harris's traps and double teams, scoring in transition, and following his own misses.
When Darius wasn't scoring, diving on the ground, and wrestling rebounds from the opponent, he was supporting and leading his younger teammates Donald Jordan and Jonathan Butler. These two made me look smart for featuring them in last week's post about Josey and Westside's key underclassmen. Jordan was as steady as ever, making threes and getting to the basket. And Butler sent the crowd into a frenzy twice with his best Darius Williams impersonation, weaving through traffic and finishing in acrobatic fashion.
With Laney's starters ALL in foul trouble and on the bench for most of the second quarter, Laney looked as vulnerable as I've seen them as the Wildcats trailed 39-31 at halftime. But the second half belonged to Laney. Junior Christian Keeling started the third quarter with back to back mid range jump shots. Senior Jashawn Brooks continued his habit of impacting both ends by scoring in the paint, making jump shots, getting to the free throw line and saving a basket with a block from behind. By the time Zep Jasper went to work, the Wildcats had turned an 8 point deficit into a 12 point lead.
Check out the video above to see Josey's gutsy attempt at handing the Wildcats their first loss since the season's first game. Also featured in the video are highlights from the girls contest. When you watch, keep one thing in mind: we get to do this all again next week at Laney in the region 3A tournament! We are lucky. I'll see you in the gym!