Notre Dame guard Kevin Francis was awarded the Genesee Region League Player of the Year award this week. Kendall's Josh Laureano and his coach, and brother, Justin both thought he deserved to share that honor.
You can call that a little added motivation as the fifth-seeded Eagles kicked off the Section 5 Class C2 playoffs with a 77-74 win over No. 12 Cuba-Rushford Tuesday.
Laureano scored 51 points with 10 assists and seven rebounds to lead the way.
"We were disappointed that Josh didn't get Co-Player of the Year in the GR," said Justin, the older brother and coach. "Josh and Francis are so much alike, very similar. I won't take anything away from Francis because he's a big-time player, but Josh is just as good."
"I talked about it with Francis when we played them," Josh said. "There was a big fight on Section 5 Talksback saying I said all these things about him, and I didn't. He is a great player. But I just think people should give me as much credit as he gets."
Cuba-Rushford sat in a 3-2 zone, which basically played like man-to-man for Laureano because the guards were too wide. Justin knows that not many players can go one-on-one with his brother.
"I had to beg him to please go by (the defender) until they stop you," Justin said. "Everything he scored tonight was going to the basket. He went 17-of-19 from the floor."
Laureano's night is going to go down as one of the best in Section 5 history, not just Kendall history.
He hit a fade-away 3-pointer in the second overtime to clinch the win. He beat former Division I and professional player Roosevelt Bouie's school record of 47 points, and pulled a team and school together.
The 51 points is believed to be the second-highest in Section 5 history, only behind Matt Kerkey's 57 points for Mynderse in 1992.
"I enjoyed it because it made me happy to do what I was doing, and it was making everybody around me happier," Josh said. "Everybody that was in the gym was having fun, not just me."
Laureano is one of the most prolific scorers in the GR, but 51 is a number that is rarely seen in Section 5. And his teammates have no problem with their go-to option.
"If I would just let Josh go, he'd probably have some pretty high scoring games," Justin said. "I try to restrain him because as a coach, it is always team first. And we truly do have a team. There is zero infighting, zero jealousy and everybody is rooting for each other."
Colt Tooley added 14 points for the Eagles (14-9), who will play No. 4 Dundee (13-8) on Friday.
"We have talked about how winnable our bracket it and if we want to win it, we can," Josh said. "We didn't play our best game tonight because we had it in our head that we should have won because we were a higher seed. We shouldn't have been like that."
(It was originally reported that Laureano scored 53. The results were later changed and the total was 51. Still amazing)
UPDATE: Laureano's total is actually third all-time in Section 5. Prattsburgh's Brian Putnam scored 51 points in 1991 for the second highest total in a game.