By Rory Sharrock
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but the Jonesboro Lady Cardinals brought the heat in their match against North Clayton by defeating the Lady Eagles 52-38 Friday night at Jonesboro High School.
With the win, Jonesboro avenged being swept by North Clayton last season and now takes sole possession of first place in Region 4A-AAAA at 5-1. The Lady Cards overall record stands at 13-4.
"It was a good win, but we still have a long way to go," said Lady Cards' head coach Jamie Horton. "I'll give them (North Clayton) some credit. They played real well without their star player (Latia Williams) tonight (Friday). North Clayton hits the boards real hard, so that was our whole thing. We wanted to box out strong."
Junior guard Drameka Griggs was the difference on the floor as she led all players with a game-high 24 points, including hitting 10-of-13 from the foul line to lift her squad to the top of the standings.
"I'm just happy that we won," Griggs said. "We just came out and tried to play big. That's what we did and I finished strong. We just hope that we can get the respect that we deserve. Even though we play tough teams, we still don't get the respect we deserve. So hopefully this will send out a statement that we can play with anybody."
There was a playoff-like intensity on the floor as these two rivals scrapped for loose balls as if the season was on the line.
Jonesboro led from start-to-finish, but after going up 24-16 at the half, the Lady Eagles stormed out of the locker room seeking to cut into their deficit.
North Clayton opened up the third quarter on a 9-1 run, bringing the score to 30-25. However, that would be as close as they would get as Jonesboro guard Joi Holyfield raced to the hoop for a layup and the foul on the ensuing possession, thus switching the momentum back to the Lady Cards.
"They started to turn it on. We play in spurts and sometimes we won't score for a little while, then we'll go on a run. That was one of our runs," Horton said.
Later, the boys made it a sweep with a 59-45 victory.
Jonesboro sprinted to a huge 20-4 first-quarter lead and never looked back to improve to 15-3 and 6-0 in the league.
"In the first half, we really played well defensively and boxing out," said Jonesboro head coach Dan Maehlman. "We're not playing 32 minutes yet, but we're getting better. I want to peak at the right time and hopefully that's when the region tournament starts."
The Cardinals completed the first half of their region schedule undefeated and appear poised to make a deep run for the playoffs.
Three Jonesboro players scored in double digits, including junior forward Jason Griffin (13 points and six rebounds), senior point guard Antonio Bell (11 points and five assists) and Brandon Hosley, who poured in a game-high 26 points. Hosley also connected on 5-of-11 from behind the arc.
"We just played as a team. Jason (Griffin) did really well on (North Clayton's) Andre Malone and we played good-help defense," said Hosley. "I was just following my shots and my teammates were distributing me the ball, so I said I was going to knock them down."
Jonesboro's talented veteran roster was too much for North Clayton to handle as the Eagles' rotation featured several sophomores and juniors.
Jonesboro will open its gym doors on Tuesday for another regional game against the Griffin Bears beginning at 6 p.m.
North Clayton is off until next Friday when they travel down to Griffin.
Prior to the varsity games, the Jonesboro girls junior varsity squad posted a 53-20 rout over North Clayton.