By Rory Sharrock
Off the court, Drameka Griggs is an upstanding citizen and student with a clean record. However, on the court, she's a kleptomaniac wanted for grand theft.
The senior point guard recorded a career-high 12 steals to go along with a game-high 21 points with five assists as Jonesboro defeated North Clayton 61-41 Tuesday night at North Clayton High School.
"I really don't know what to say. I had butterflies about this game. I had to put on a show because my head coach (Jill Dunn) from Jacksonville (University) was here. I had to put on a show for her. Every game counts and in the region, you have to give it your all. That's what I came out and tried to do," said Griggs.
Earlier this school year, Griggs has signed a scholarship to attend Jacksonville University in Florida for the 2009-10 season.
Jonesboro's overwhelming team speed broke down North Clayton's man defense, turning virtually every possession into an indoor track meet. The Lady Cardinals feature a small roster in terms of height, however, head coach Jimmy Fields' free-flying offensive strategy makes up for the lack of size by allowing his players to run in open space, weaving past the tall trees in the paint.
"I was hoping they'd go to a man and that's to our advantage. I was surprised they tried to press us. They played right into our hands. We wanted to push the ball and they wanted to slow it down," said Fields. "I told them we have to be more aggressive on the offensive and defensive end. At halftime, we made some adjustments on defense and I think that helped us out a lot. We still haven't played four quarters yet. I feel like we played three good quarters."
The game remained fairly close in the first half with Jonesboro up 17-8 in the first quarter and then 30-17 at the break. But the North Clayton was very sloppy with the ball and the turnovers began to catch up with the team. At one point, Griggs tallied three straight steals and then sprinted the other way for three straight baskets to add to the Lady Cardinals' commanding lead.
With its latest win, Jonesboro improved to 5-1 and 2-0 in Region 4-AAAA. North Clayton's record now stands at 2-3 and 1-2 in league play.
Along with Griggs, shooting guard Joi Holyfield cracked double digits, scoring 16 points with five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
"Jonesboro has a really good squad. Holyfield and Griggs played very well. They deserve to win. They outhustled us and they had fewer turnovers," said North Clayton head coach Kimleon Turner.
Quatisha Wright and Essence Chenualt paced the Lady Eagles with eight points apiece.
North Clayton 68, Jonesboro 50 (Boys): In the late game, North Clayton's boys salvaged a split on the court and posted a blow out win of its own.
The Eagles jumped out to a 10-0 lead and flew high above the clouds as they improved to 4-1 and 2-1 in region action. North Clayton clinched its third consecutive win and second straight rout by pressing Jonesboro with a impenetrable defense.
Jonesboro trailed 15-9 at the end of the first quarter. However, the Cardinals mounted a small comeback in the second, scoring 18 points and went into the locker room down 33-27 at intermission.
But North Clayton opened up the flood gates in third quarter as the turnover bug, which haunted the girls team in the first game, was the scary monster for Jonesboro's boys in the nightcap. The Eagles outscored the Cards 27-7 in the frame and put the car in cruise control en route to victory lane.
"Our boys played hard. We teach pressure defense to open up the offense," said Eagles' head coach Martisse Troup. "The first half we kind of stepped back, but in the second half we added the pressure and that led to the win."
North Clayton featured a balanced scoring attack with three players hitting double figures led by Zach Bradley, who notched 14 points. Jeffery Newbery added 13 and Jimmy Williams scored 10.
Jonesboro fell to 3-2 and 1-1 in Region 4-AAAA.