By Anthony Rhoads
For four straight years, the Jonesboro Lady Cardinals have made the state tournament and for four straight years, they've made it to the Sweet 16.
Even though they've made it to the second round each year, the Lady Cardinals haven't been able to get over that hump. But they're determined to change things this season.
The Lady Cardinals will get their chance as they play Lakeside-DeKalb today in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton.
"It goes back to a lot of hard work by the kids," Jonesboro head coach John Kovzel said of the team's four-year run. "Hopefully, we'll go further this year."
The five seniors - Shadé Smith, LaTreace Jackson, Eric Durham, Sheena Brown and Jessica Pippin - have been able to go to state each year and Kovzel would like nothing more than for them to get to go deeper into the playoffs.
"I don't want to see it end," Kovzel said. "They've been great for our program. They've been very important for our team with their leadership."
They all have not only been playing basketball together for several years but they've also been teammates in volleyball.
"It definitely helps in basketball," Kovzel said. "Coach (Dan) Maehlman does a great job with the volleyball program. We don't have to worry about conditioning when basketball practice starts; we can focus on the Xs and Os and that's a big help."
Jonesboro won the Region 5-AAAA title to earn a No. 1 seed going into the state playoffs.
In the first round of state at home against Rome, Jonesboro cruised to a 74-51 victory.
Kovzel expects a tough contest against Lakeside but the team has worked hard to prepare for their second-round foe.
"The kids have prepared a lot from the scouting reports," Kovzel said. "I think that will be key for us."
Kovzel said his team should match up well against Lakeside but he's worried about the guards.
"They have three really good guards," he said. "Lakeside has exceptionally good guards and it will be a big challenge."
Lakeside advanced with a 58-54 victory over Rockdale County.
In other state basketball games tonight:
n The Riverdale girls will play Glynn Academy at 4 p.m. at the Macon Centreplex.
Riverdale beat Fayette County 59-44 in the first round of the tournament.
Laura Broomfield led Riverdale with 22 and Antoinette Williams added 16.
Glynn Academy beat Coffee County 59-51 in the first round.
Glynn Academy is led by junior forward April McClendon, senior forward Dominique Brown and freshman guard Valencia Kelly. Kelly scored 18 in the win over Coffee.
n The North Clayton boys play Etowah tonight at 8:30 p.m. in Dalton. In the first round, North Clayton beat Gordon Central 73-59 while Etowah outlasted Eastside 95-92 in five overtimes.