Laneville Boys Take Down Chireno In Top 15 Class A Showdown
LANEVILLE -- You can surely think of a few people in your life that would be appalled to walk the court in their finest attire after a basketball game.
Popcorn and soda spilled in the stands. Sweat still on the floor. Humidity in the building that was not coughed up by trees.
For the who's who at Laneville, these always have and always will be the circumstances under which the homecoming queen and king are crowned. And, as usual, the Yellowjackets basketball team did its part Friday by delivering the school a 74-43 homecoming win at the expense of a similarly strong Chireno squad.
The victory also broke Laneville's District 28-A first place tie with the same Owls. Only four games remain for both teams in the regular season.
"This is my first time ever being at an all-basketball school," first-year head coach Michael Thomas said. "It's a little bit of a different atmosphere. The kids love it."
Laneville (15-8, 7-1), which entered the week ranked eighth in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' Class A poll doesn't look much different under Thomas. High defensive pressure and an assertion around the backboards are still the program's signatures.
But Chireno (18-8, 6-2), ranked 12th in the same poll, handed the Yellowjackets a 72-54 loss earlier in the month and added a little more to the thought that it could be the District 28-A champion. After dropping a district contest of its own, stealing Laneville's homecoming game could have put it back in the league's front seat.
Thomas said a handful of his players were unavailable for the earlier meeting with the Owls for a "life lessons" teaching moment.
A seven-minute scoring drought during the second quarter against the full-strength press sunk Chireno. Laneville expanded a 14-11 lead after the first quarter to a 32-15 advantage at the break.
The Yellowjackets ultimately doubled up the Owls in the rebound department, 47-24, while recording 10 steals as part of Chireno's 13 turnovers.
Sophomore guard and team captain Jaylon Grant scored a game-best 28 points and tied for a lead in total rebounds with nine. Tralon Alexander, Laneville's sole senior, followed with 22 points and nine boards.
Junior guard LaDarius Arnett added another eight rebounds toward the total.
Andrew Little's 10 points led Chireno.
"We executed well tonight," Grant said after returning to the floor in a dress shirt and slacks. "My teammates hit me when I was open. It was just a great night. There was a lot of motivation. We regrouped. We got together, got better chemistry, came out with a little chip on our shoulder and got the W."
That "W" gives Laneville the inside track for a top seed once the Class A playoffs begin the week of Feb. 22. It's a big deal because there just aren't a lot of teams out there with the Yellowjackets' depth.
Coolidge High School started the week ranked fourth in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' Class A poll. The Yellowjackets and Coolidge are the only teams within Region IV currently ranked in the top 10, so high finishes could put off a meeting between the sides until the third round of the tournament.
If Chireno finishes second in District 28-A, however, it will avoid any teams currently ranked in the top 10 until at least the Region IV championship game.
"You look at our record and you think, 'Oh man, they're not a good team," Thomas said. "But all of our losses have come against 4A and 5A teams. The only 1A we lost to was Chireno when we got to the life lesson issue. Other than that, we haven't lost to a 1A ball club.
"When we play 1A ball clubs, this is how it should be with the talent we have. Our schedule has been tough, but the process is paying off a little bit. The kids are seeing it, the fans are seeing it and hopefully we can keep going with this."
The Owls will host Gary at 7 p.m. Tuesday in their first bounce back opportunity. Laneville simultaneously travels to Apple Springs.
In the interim, it's a good time for the long-awaited homecoming dance.
"I think there's a lot to take from this one," Arnett said. "We can win this district."
No. 8 Laneville 74, No. 12 Chireno 43
At Laneville Gymnaisum, Laneville
Chireno 11 4 15 13 -- 43
Laneville 14 18 17 25 -- 74
CHIRENO (18-8, 6-2) -- Andrew Little 10, Mason Shaw 9, Sam Copeland 6, Jeffrey Cleveland 4, Chad Elumbaugh 4, Luke Alius 3, Terrence Sowell 3, Hank Burks 2, Code Westbrook 2.
LANEVILLE (15-8, 7-1) -- Jaylon Grant 28, Tralon Alexander 22, LaDarius Arnett 8, Jakavion Polk 5, Jayden Hollins 4, Christian Brantley 3, DeTerrious Hart 2, Jaden Johnson 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Chireno: Copeland. Laneville: Alexander, Polk.