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Freshman's defensive pressure helps defending region champs win

By Derrick Mahone

Jonesboro guard Cameron Sutton did not score any points in Tuesday's game over Stockbridge, but the freshman guard played a huge role in the Region 4-AAAA win.

The 14-year-old Sutton was assigned to guard the region player of the year candidate Chris Davis, who came into the contest averaging about 26 points a game. Jonesboro coach Daniel Maehlman stopped short in his locker room postgame talk of calling Sutton the player of the game.

Davis was limited to only seven points before fouling out with 5:40 remaining in the fourth quarter as the Cardinals cruised to a 59-42 win in a key region contest. Sutton received plenty of backside help from his teammates in helping contain one of the metro area's top players.

"Cameron caused havoc out there," Maehlman said. "It was unbelievable."

Jonesboro players agreed.

"He played with a lot of heart," Jonesboro guard Jesse Gardner said of Sutton's defensive performance. "He is not worried about his points. Cameron loves playing defense."

Sutton went scoreless, but Jonesboro got enough offense from Rasham Suarez and Gardner, who scored 16 and 19 points respectively.

"I just kept telling the team to be aggressive," Maehlman said. "When we got up 13-14 points, I tried to spread the floor. We played passive during a two and half minute span. I just told them to go ahead to keep playing aggressive."

The win improves Jonesboro to 6-6 overall and 4-1 in the region while Stockbridge dropped to 11-3 and 6-1.

The game was delayed 18 minutes in the first quarter with 5:53 remaining when the scoreboard clock malfunctioned. Jonesboro lead from the start and Stockbridge could only pull to within seven points late in the fourth, but missed several uncontested lay-ups and five of eight on free throws.

With Davis struggling, Tigers junior forward Dante Campbell scored a team-high 16 points.

"We just didn't have any mental toughness," Stockbridge coach Duane Kelley said. "Missing free throws and lay-ups is not a coaching problem. Jonesboro was the better team. They should why they are the defending region champs, and we exhibited why we are Stockbridge."

Jonesboro has won the last four contest between the schools.

"Coming off the region tournament win last season, we want to repeat," Gardner said. "I want to leave on a good note."

Stockbridge will have a short time to regroup as they travel to North Clayton Friday in another key region contest. The winner of that contest will be in the driver's seat for the regular season championship. The winner of the regular season title gets an automatic berth into the state tournament.

"This is not the end of the world," Kelley said. "We will definitely see Jonesboro again. Jonesboro just wanted it more than we did tonight."

For the first time this season, both the Jonesboro boys and girls team won on the same night.

Kierra Davis scored 12 points and La'Quinta Gallashaw added 11 to pace the Cardinals to a 62-36 victory to snap a five-game losing streak. It was the team's first win in about a month since the Cardinals defeated North Clayton 56-52 on Dec. 8.

With the win, Jonesboro improved to 4-7 and 2-3. Stockbridge (4-8, 2-4) was led by Amari Moreland, who finished with 12 points.