Friday, June 24, 2016

Laney, Lakeside, Evans, Glenn Hills roll at Wednesday's summer league

Laney rolls past Harlem

After five years without a summer league loss, Laney has been beaten three times in the first few weeks of June. But the Wildcats made quick work of now region opponent Harlem at Wednesday's summer league at Butler. I watched them come a steal and a dunk away from beating Richmond last week, and they handily beat Glenn Hills on opening night.

Laney has a proud tradition and a deep pipeline of talent. Along with senior Tahj Tanksley, who didn't play Wednesday, PJ Walker, Dejuan Griffin, and Donald Henley are a few of many guards in the Wildcats' system who position Laney nicely come winter time.

The Wildcats' reached the quarterfinal round of the class 3A state tournament last season after 6 consecutive trips to the state semifinals, including a state title (2012) in class 2A, to which the Laney will now return with the new region alignments.

The new 8 team class 2A region of interest to Augusta's basketball fans includes the following teams:

Laney, Westside, Butler, Josey, Glenn Hills, Harlem, Jefferson County, and Screven County

Like all teams, Laney will need to earn its way into the top half of that group to have a chance to make an eighth straight run in next season's state tournament. Of course we'll wait many months to know whether they will succeed. But before that long period begins, we can get one more sneak preview Wednesday when the Wildcats face arch rival Josey, who is unbeaten in June, on the last night of June's summer league schedule.

Evans is steadily improving

Fresh off a win over then unbeaten Richmond, Evans again knocked off Hephzibah Wednesday. The Knights have improved steadily all month. The more I learn about the team, the more optimistic I am about its future.

Sophomore Cameron Cabarrus and junior Will Caudill have both drained shots from deep all month. Kyle Driscoll and Duvall Cardwell have patrolled the paint and the glass on both ends, and they both pass, catch, and finish in transition. And two year varsity contributor Serron Spann, a junior point guard, sets a great example by willingly passing the ball ahead in transition, and by generally being a good and reliable teammate.

Coach Kevin Kenny has a deep roster of good players whose names I'm slowly learning. When Evans substitutes in waves of five, each group gives a proper defensive effort and shows a willingness to share the ball, like here:

Lakeside is loaded

After watching Evans and Lakeside put back to back beatings on Hephzibah and Cross Creek, respectively, I look forward to watching the decades long rivals meet possibly several times this winter.

Lakeside is more talented now than ever. Returning seniors Kresean Hall (11 ppg, 7 rpg) and Deon Berrien (15 ppg, 13 rpg) and sophomore Kalen Williams (14 ppg, 3 apg) have all consistently produced. And ready to contribute significantly are juniors Brad Hilley and Tucker Gilbert.

Sheppard and Whitehead lead Glenn Hills to an impressive win

Glenn Hills turned an explosive second half run into a comfortable win over Richmond Wednesday. The Spartans were led by two newcomers who have played inspired basketball this month. Senior transfer Tony Sheppard and freshman John Whitehead were relentless on the glass and disruptive on defense. Sheppard also made a pair of threes and Whitehead dunked one that I didn't get on film.

Without 6'7" junior Timmy Sellers and veteran guard Robert Drew, there was no shortage of contributors, including lefty guards CJ Bowers and Eric Farmer. And 6'5" Jeffrey Cabarrus provides yet another long an active presence in the paint.

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