By Derrick Mahone
The North Clayton boys started strong and finished the game that way in its win over Douglass while the school's girls had a reverse scenario in its loss Friday at home.
Holding the Class AAAAA Douglass team to under double-digits through the first three quarters, North Clayton cruised to a 69-30 win in the nightcap of the doubleheader. With the win, the Eagles improved to 3-0 on the season heading into today's Region 4-AAAA contest against Forest Park.
Four players scored in double-figures for the Eagles, who were paced by sophomore Marcus Hunt's 14 points. Hunt didn't play most of the second quarter after sustaining a minor cut on his elbow. He had to return to the locker room to switch shorts and jersey since his original ones had blood on them.
Hunt, one of the nation's top sophomores, closed the fourth quarter with two 3-pointers before coach Martisse Troup beginning playing more substitutes.
In addition to Hunt, Antwaun Murphy had 11 points and Jimmy Williams and Justin Raunell finished with 10 points each.
"We are mainly trying to preach defense, because that is what wins championships," Troup said. "We played man at first, but backed off into a zone because we wanted to show good sportsmanship. We are an experienced team that plays hard."
Next week, the Eagles will get four players off the state playoff football team. The added depth should help the Eagles make a run at the region championship with seven seniors on the roster.
"We were able to play hard, aggressive and physical," Williams said. "We are not overlooking anyone this season."
This was Douglass' first game of the season and it showed. The Eagles had a big hand in slowing down Douglass with a strong defensive effort. North Clayton held a 38-12 halftime lead with some balance offensive scoring.
"When the football players get here next week, we are going to be pretty strong," said senior guard Zach Bradley, who signed a scholarship with Clayton State last month. "The football players are the ones that give us our intensity."
North Clayton girls coach Kimleon Turner is looking for a lot more intensity from the start, especially his senior players. Douglass defeated North Clayton 56-39 in the opening game. The Astros jumped to a 15-3 first quarter lead and was never really challenged by the Eagles.
University of Georgia signee Khaalidah Miller led the Astros (5-0) with 16 points as their pressure defense forced North Clayton into several early game turnovers. Douglass came into the game with a 17-point winning margin.
"This was not North Clayton basketball," Turner said. "I was not pleased with the effort. We have to start at the tip playing hard. To win you have to play all four quarters. We got six seniors that are going to have to step up and lead."
The Eagles got a big effort from juniors Miranda Cant rell and Arellie Thomas, who finished with 20 and 11 points, respectively.
"If I can get our seniors to play like our juniors did tonight, we will be alright," Turner said.
He is confident that the Eagles will make a strong finish.
"After January is when it will kick in," Turner said.