Saniya Rivers leads Laney girls basketball team into fourth round of 4A playoffs

***Click here to view a gallery of 28 photos from the action***

Saniya Rivers has been the best player on the court in all 29 games the Laney girls basketball team have played this year.

That was no different Saturday night in the third round of the 4A playoffs. The standout sophomore asserted her dominance in the second half to lift the third-seeded Buccaneers to a 55-35 victory over No. 6 South Central.

Rivers scored 15 of her game-high 25 points in the final 16 minutes and was only two assists shy of a triple-double.

Laney’s Saniya Rivers finished with 25 points on Saturday. [Tim Hower/Coastal Preps]

“They were a great team,” Rivers said. “In the first half we weren’t really scoring like we needed to, so in the second half we needed to come out and play Laney basketball.”

The first possession of the second half began with a reverse layup from Rivers and she was just getting started. She scored Laney’s (28-1) final nine points of the third quarter to give them a 40-29 lead.

Rivers displayed her dynamic skill set on three straight possessions early in the fourth quarter to all but seal the victory.

She made a pair of outstanding passes to freshmen Taylor Chism and Breone Walker and then converted a fastbreak layup to put the Buccaneers up 46-32 with 5:45 on the clock.

“I think a big part of it is her playing experience,” Laney coach Ashley Berting said about Rivers’ skill set. “The number of games that she’s played is something that makes her mature beyond her years. Her IQ of the game is a difference maker for our team.”

Chism finished with 12 points and Jennifer Jacobs added seven.

Laney senior Jennifer Jacobs scored seven points in the win. [Tim Hower/Coastal Preps]

After jumping out to a 13-2 lead, the Buccaneers saw their advantage dwindle to 25-20 at halftime. They executed the halftime adjustments and shot 50 percent (13 of 26) in the second half while holding South Central to 18 percent (4 of 44).

Now, Laney will hit the road to take on a familiar opponent. They will play at No. 2 Southeast Raleigh on Tuesday at a time to be decided. The teams met in the East final a season ago with the Bulldogs coming away with a 55-39 victory.

“I think it’s going to take bits and pieces of the last couple games we’ve played and being able to put them together for a complete game,” Berting said. “We’ll have to execute to the best of our ability.”