By Brian Paglia
All the missed layups, porous defense and missed offensive assignments in Jonesboro's 48-37 victory at Stockbridge Tuesday certainly concerned coach Jimmy Fields. But the first-year coach explained away those maladies to the winter break and a schedule that has largely left the Lady Cardinals untested.
Jonesboro (12-1, 5-0 in Region 4-AAAA) has an average margin of victory of 20.3 points. The Lady Cardinals have only had three games decided by less than 10 points in wins against Dutchtown (60-52) and Sandy Creek (50-42) and their lone loss to Woodward Academy (34-31).
But after the Stockbridge game, Fields spoke to his team about a more pressing concern. Against the Lady Tigers, Jonesboro depended almost exclusively on guards Drameka Griggs and Joi Holyfield for any offensive production. Fields said that must change for Jonesboro to compete in the playoffs.
"I asked them a question," Fields said.
"I said, 'Would you rather go 20-0 or 25-3 and Drameka and Joi score 22 points a game, or everybody's scoring 10 or 12 and we're in the Final Four or we're the champs?' That's what we've got to look at.
"I'm trying to get them used to that it's a team game. I told them how far we go is going to depend on the team, not one or two people.
And to get to the next level, you need more than one or two people. It's going to take a team effort."
Smith Returns for Lady Cardinals
Jonesboro 6-foot center Sharmesia Smith returns tonight in the Lady Cardinals' game against Ola (4-8, 1-4 in Region 4-AAAA) for the first time this season. Smith had missed the first half of the season because of a fractured foot suffered during volleyball season.
Fields said Smith, who committed to Mercer University in November, began to practice at full strength this week. Smith's return should bolster Jonesboro's defense. The senior's long wing-span should help the Lady Cardinals' interior presence and provide another scoring option to Griggs and Holyfield.
Griggs also seems fully recovered from an ankle sprain that caused her to miss two games. She returned in Jonesboro's 57-29 victory over Westside (Macon), and scored 22 points in the championship game of the Security Bank Classic at Jones County over Christmas break.
In First Game,
Morgan's Season Ends
Vertis Morgan had just become eligible for Eagle's Landing after transferring from St. Louis and already began to make an impact for the Golden Eagles. Down by six on the road at Rutland Tuesday, Morgan hit a 3 to bring Eagle's Landing within one in a game they'd eventually lose 55-54.
But soon after, the sophomore broke his right arm catching a ball and will be done for theClay Crump.
"He's doing fine, but broke his upper right arm and is done," Crump said. "He has skills. Would've helped us a lot."
Morgan is the fifth player to go down with an injury for the Golden Eagles (2-8, 2-4 in Region 4-AAA). Crump was without four players to start the game against Rutland.
"We're playing as hard as any team around, just not getting over the hump," Crump said. "We'll keep working."
Bice Faces Former Player
Among the stops in Woodland boys basketball coach David Bice's 25 years in coaching, he came to Thomasville, Ga., coaching Thomas County Central. Among the many players he tutored those years, he came along one of the most consummate role players he ever coached in Clay Crump.
Bice faces his former player tonight when the Wolfpack (9-5, 3-3 in Region 4-AAA) go on the road to face Eagle's Landing in a Region 4-AAA game.
Bice remembers Crump as a true student of the game, one who guised any disadvantages in skill with guile and intellect.
"I can tell you, he's tough," Bice said. "I was a little more vocal back then, and I know he's tough.
"His senior year, we didn't really have a big man, and he had played power forward for us.
He wasn't really a power forward, but he bought into it and did it.
Did some good things. He was a pretty good defender. He really was. He wasn't the fastest guy in the world. He just knew how to play."
Eagles Playing For Box
North Clayton coach Martisse Troup said his team is dedicating the rest of its season to one of its player's mothers that passed away Wednesday.
The mother of Eagles 6-foot-4 center Torian Box died of cancer Wednesday, according to Troup.
"We're going to dedicate our season to her," Troup said.