Will the third time be a charm for the Jonesboro Cardinal boys basketball team?
Coach Dan Maehman's Cardinal boys have qualified for a regional basketball finals for the third straight year and also earn a home-court position for the opening round of the state AAAA playoffs next weekend.
But the previous two years have been as regional runners-up. Maehlman and the Cardinals hope for a regional title as they take to the court Saturday against Forest Park in the regional finals.
Jonesboro (17-10) held off an Alcovy surge Thursday evening for a 39-37 victory in the semifinals of the Region 4-AAAA tournament at Stockbridge to earn its regional finals berth.
"We're not offensively talented," Maehlman said after the win. "We don't rebound or block out well, but the kids have battled all year. Our defense has been our strength. The guys find ways to win."
Thursday night was no exception, as Jonesboro held Alcovy to just five points in the first quarter and six for the first half. But the Cardinals only scored five in the first and led 14-6 at halftime. Both teams combined for 14 points in the third quarter as Jonesboro led 21-17 entering the final quarter.
Antonio Gardner scored six of his team-high 11 points in the final quarter, including four free throws. Jessie Gardner added 10 points, seven coming in the final quarter. Four points were from the free throw line. Stan Clark contributed nine points.
Antonio Gardner had nine rebounds and Cliff Crews added eight.
Jordan Butts led Alcovy with 12 points, Devon Edwards added 10 and Nick Wilson contributed eight.
The Cardinals are looking forward to their third meeting with Forest Park. Both teams split during the regular season, both winning on the road.
"It'll be a war," Maehlman said. "It'll be awesome to bring home the region championship, but I'm glad that two Clayton County teams are battling for the title."
Alcovy will face Stockbridge in the consolation game Saturday afternoon.
Jonesboro 52, Mt. Zion 34: Joi Holyfield netted a game-high 19 points to lead the Lady Cardinals (26-1) into the regional championship game Saturday night against Dutchtown.
After being held scoreless in the first quarter, Holyfield burned the nets for 13 of the team's 17 points in the second quarter as the Lady Cardinals built a 29-15 halftime lead.
Leading 12-8 after the first quarter, Jonesboro scored 12 straight points before Tierra Newell's three-pointer with 2:59 remaining gave the Lady Bulldogs their first points of the quarter. Newell scored all seven Mt. Zion points in the quarter.
Holyfield scored three 3-point buckets in the quarter.
Jonesboro's lead ballooned to 19 on two occasions in the third quarter and 20 points after a bucket by Drameka Griggs midway in the fourth quarter, 48-28.
"We had a hard practice Wednesday," coach Jimmy Fields said. "I took the blame for our collapse in the fourth quarter (Tuesday against Alcovy), because I wanted to try different things and different lineups. It threw our rhythm off. Right now, our goal is the Final Four and we have the players to do it."
Griggs contributed 10 points in the win and Sharmesia Smith contributed eight.
Newell led Mt. Zion with 13 points and Precious Person contributed eight.
Mt. Zion will face Forest Park in the consolation game Saturday evening.