Laney’s Lady Wildcats opened the 2017-18 season Monday with a 79-43 win over Greenbrier at Glenn Hills. Jaiden Hamilton scored 21 points and made 5 three pointers. De'sha Benjamin and Jhessyka Williams each added 18.
AugBball’s special student reporter Robert Drew was there to capture the highlights for the season debut of the prohibitive favorite to repeat as class AA’s state champion:
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t label a team as the favorite to win a state title on the first day of the season. But Laney is no ordinary team. Seniors De’sha Benjamin, who recently signed with Alabama, and Jhessyka Williams have won two state titles in three seasons under coach Otis Smart. Williams will almost certainly join Benjamin on the college basketball scene next season. When she does, we will look back at the four year run that current Clemson star Aliyah Collier (Laney ‘2015) started, and realize that every single player who played major minutes on those state title teams (whether the number of titles will stand at 2 or 3 after March) all will have become college basketball players.
To show proof, I give you the list of Lady Wildcats playing college basketball from Laney’s historic 3 year run:
Aliyah Collier (‘15) - Clemson
Gemiya Bowman (‘16) - Albany State
Jazmin Holmon (‘16) - Mississippi Valley State
Aubriana Bonner (‘17) - Alabama A&M
Jasmine Bartlett (‘17) - Savannah State
De’sha Benjamin (‘18) - Alabama
Monday night began coach Smart’s squad’s attempt to do what is unprecedented in our area: win 3 state titles in 4 seasons. Because this program is so exceptional and so extraordinary, I will continue to give the squad a label I wouldn’t give any other team before this season:* the prohibitive favorite to win a state title. Again.
And here’s another label the ladies from the Boulevard deserve without question: Dynasty.
Let’s enjoy the ride as the Lady Wildcats attempt to make area basketball history.
*I was careful to say I wouldn’t call any other team besides Laney a prohibitive favorite to win a state title before *this* particular season because, as the most die hard girls hoops fans know, there is one more local team that deserves the same label as Laney. But I’ll talk much more about that team when it officially tips off in the coming week.