By Jeffery Armstrong
The Jonesboro High girls basketball team is on a mission this season - they were the only one of the Clayton and Henry County teams to win a subregion and region tournament titles and they aren't truly satisfied at this point, especially senior point guard Shad? Smith.
"I'm glad we won [the Region 5-AAAA title game against Stone Mountain], but now we have to do well in state, which means getting past the Sweet 16," Smith said last Saturday after Jonesboro's victory.
Jonesboro (25-2) will be the only Southern Crescent basketball team to play in their own gym in the first round of the 2005 state basketball playoffs - the rest of the teams will all have to pack their gym bags and take bus rides to their first-round state matchups. The second-ranked Jonesboro Lady Cardinals will host the Rome Lady Wolves (22-5) of Region 7-AAAA on Friday at 7 p.m.
In Class AAAAA girls action, the Mundy's Mill Lady Tigers will have their work cut out in their first-ever state playoff game, having to travel to Stone Mountain and face defending state champion Stephenson, champions of Region 2-AAAAA, at their gym in front of their rabid fans. Game time is set for Friday at 7 p.m. Fourth-ranked Stephenson (23-4) is led by Rashawn Givens and Jasmine Smith. The bad luck in the Region 2-AAAAA tournament for Morrow and Riverdale's girls might actually be blessings in disguise, as both teams will only travel to nearby Fayette County and face home teams they have a good chance to beat on Friday.
Morrow will head to Fayetteville to face the No. 2 seed Starr's Mill Lady Panthers at 7 p.m., a team hosting a first-round game with a losing record (9-15). Riverdale (18-6) will also be in Fayetteville Friday night, facing the Region 4-AAAAA champion Fayette County Lady Tigers (17-10) in first-round action at 7 p.m.
The Lady Raiders of Riverdale, No. 8 in the state, might have freshman center Laura Broomfield at full strength for the Fayette County game; she suffered an ankle injury in the Region 2-AAAAA tournament.
In Class AAAA girls action, the North Clayton Lady Eagles will hit the road to play the East Paulding Lady Raiders (22-6), champions of Region 7-AAAA, at 7 p.m. on Friday and the Stockbridge Lady Tigers will face the Thomas County Central Lady Yellow Jackets, champions of Region 1-AAAA, Friday at 7 p.m. as well. Three Southern Crescent boys teams made state this year and one of them, the Mundy's Mill Tigers of Region 4-AAAAA, will be making their first-ever state appearance.
The third-year team will follow the same path as the Mundy's Mill girls, traveling to face the Stephenson Jaguars (Region 2-AAAAA champs) Saturday at 7 p.m. at Stephenson High. The North Clayton Eagles (20-8) will travel north to Calhoun to face the Gordon Central Warriors, champs of Region 7-AAAA, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
The Henry County Warhawks better pack their CD Walkmans on their trip, as they will have to travel way down south to Bainbridge to face the Bainbridge Bearcats at 7 p.m. Saturday night. The Bearcats are champions of Region 1-AAAA.