By Rory Sharrock
With Jonesboro and Dutchtown featuring two of the best backcourt tandems in the Southern Crescent, the Lady Cardinals found a mismatch in the low blocks and pounded the ball inside to its post players to find a decisive advantage on the floor.
Small forward Chanee Key scored 11 points and collected 16 rebounds while power forward Jasmine Manning dropped 11 points with 10 boards to lift Jonesboro to a 60-52 win over Dutchtown Tuesday in a Region 4-AAAA Clayton/Henry County crossover game at Jonesboro High School.
The Lady Cards record now stands at 4-1 and 1-0 in league play. This was the first defeat for the Lady Bulldogs as they fell to 4-1 and 0-1 in the region.
"My coach (Jimmy Fields) told me to put it in. It was our first region game, so the intensity was high for me. I just went out and played my game. He told me to get involved and I tried to do what I had to do," said Key.
The guard matchup between Jonesboro's Drameka Griggs and Joi Holyfield versus the Strickland twins, Alyssa and Brittney, of Dutchtown proved to be an even draw. Griggs contributed with 13 points, six steals and four assists to go along with Holyfield's team-high 14 points. While on the other end, Brittney poured in a game-high 16 points and Alyssa netted 13.
All four guards paced their teams in a basket for basket sequence, which kept the game within arm's reach as Jonesboro led 13-11 after the first quarter and 28-24 at the break.
The Lady Cards began to separate themselves in the third, going up as many as 10 at one point during the stanza and holding the Lady Bulldogs to seven total points.
But late in the fourth, Dutchtown's Abria Price started to heat up from downtown, nailing two straight 3-pointers, cutting the deficit to 47-44 and then 52-47.
However, a combination of the Lady Bulldog's lack of production in the paint and clutch free throw shots by Holyfield, who hit six-of-six from the stripe, left Dutchtown on the short end of the stick on the scoreboard.
"We weren't boxing them (Jonesboro) out and snatching the rebounding like we needed to," said Dutchtown girls head coach Angela Williams. "We missed some free throws down the stretch that put us behind. We'll see them again at home."
Although this current season is still in its infancy, this was a pivotal game between two of the prohibitive favorites in Region 4-AAAA. It was the first region contest for both schools and securing this was the first step toward in a marathon run for Jonesboro.
"It was a big win and we played one of the toughest teams. I told the girls it was going to be a four-quarter fight and we have to come out and match their intensity. Our goal is to win the region championship and it starts tonight (Tuesday). I'm proud of the way they fought. We had four girls score in double figures. If we keep it like that, we'll be in good shape," said Jonesboro girls head coach Jimmy Fields.
Jonesboro 52, Dutchtown 31 (Boys)
The Cardinals held the Bulldogs to single digits during each quarter en route to their 21-point victory.
After dropping its opener, Jonesboro has reeled off a hat trick to improve to 3-1. Dutchtown drops to 1-3 with its lone win coming last week against Union Grove at the Henry County Basketball Tournament.
Although Jonesboro led 12-6 at the end of the first quarter, this game was never in doubt as the Cards used their height and speed to pull out the lopsided win.
This season is a period of transition for Jonesboro, having lost star guards like Antonio Bell and Brandon Hosley to graduation this past spring. Both players carried the club last year and there were many question marks as to how the Cards would perform without them.
However, Jonesboro is averaging 48.3 points in its three wins and now that football season is done, those previously empty spots on the roster have been filled by those players who traded in their helmets for hoops. Now, the coaching staff hopes this will lead to big numbers in the win column.
"We have a long way to go. With our football team making it to the second round, we're just now getting Jason (Griffin), Cliff (Crews) and Jordan (Brown) back in the mix," said Jonesboro boys head coach Dan Maehlman. "I'm proud of the win tonight, but we still have a lot to work on, that's why practice is so great. It's a big region win and we have Griffin on Friday."
The Cards featured a balanced scoring attack with Brown recording a game-high 11 points. Power forward Antonio Gardner and shooting guard Stanley Clark scored nine respectivly.
Senior point guard Kevin Williams of Dutchtown led the Bulldogs with eight points.