It's hard to argue with what Laurinburg Institute (N.C.) accomplished this season.
Coach Chris Chaney and assistant Tim Thomas somehow found a way to keep arguably the most talented prep school team ever in sync and the Tigers ran the table, going 40-0 and finishing the Scout.com Top 10 Prep Poll on top.
Laurinburg was tested early at the CSG Prep Showcase in New Jersey when Brewster Academy nearly had Chaney & Co. beat. However, the team showed resiliency and battled back from a 13-point halftime deficit for the win.
They knocked off nationally ranked Lutheran Christian Academy twice, got past No. 2 Hargrave and also beat up on NEPSAC Class A champion Bridgton Academy, Notre Dame Prep, St. Thomas More and Winchendon.
``I would have been disappointed if we went 39-1 and still won the national championship," Chaney said. "You don't have too many times in your life to have one of these teams. Our guys hated to lose, even in drills, and our practices made the games much easier."
Laurinburg averaged 101 points per game and its average margin of victory was 40 points, Nine players averaged in double-figures and 17 different players led the team in scoring.
``Honestly, I think they could have given us a game," said one mid-major college assistant coach. "But people think it was just about talent; they played well together and were well-coached."
The team averaged less than nine turnovers per contest and shot more than 80 percent from the charity stripe. Only five games were decided by less than 20 points – and two (against Brewster and Lutheran) were single-digit wins.
``I thought everyone was going to be out for themselves," Anderson added. "And at first it was definitely like that. But after the third game, Coach Chaney sat us down and told us we weren't going to win the championship. That's when we started to come together."
All of the 6 a.m. practices and the early-morning runs in the rain paid off.
``I'm a big believer in going undefeated, but I've watched plenty of great teams slip up," said Washington-bound guard Roburt Sallie. "Just look at Illinois. All it takes is one game and it's over."
``The thing about our team is that if our starters didn't show up, our second unit was ready to play," added Sallie. "We never had a drop-off at any position and that's what made our team spectacular."
BY THE NUMBERS
Shawne Williams – 16.1
Kareem Cooper – 15.5
Robert Dozier – 14.4
Roburt Sallie – 13.3
Antonio Anderson – 12.7
Michael Smith – 10.3
Quantez Robinson – 10.2
Magnum Rolle – 10.1
Jamel White – 10.0
Magnum Rolle – 10.2
Kareem Cooper – 8.4
Robert Dozier – 7.5
Jamel White – 7.6
Magnum Rolle – 4.4
Antonio Anderson – 3.8