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Ladyhawks looking for elusive win against Northeast

By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

In the last four years, the Henry County girl's team has won 59 games and has a Class AA final four appearance on its resume. With all that success, the Warhawks are still chasing one regular season goal.

Henry County has yet to beat Northeast-Macon in a Region 4-AA contest. Northeast has won all six meetings between the region rivals.

Tonight, the Ladyhawks will get another shot when Northeast makes the 58-mile trek from Macon for a key region contest. Tip-off is schedule for 6 p.m.

"They have had some real good teams, and we are fortunate enough to have a good team this season," Henry County coach Carl Caputa said. "It would be real big to get a win."

Northeast is sitting atop the region standings with a 5-0 record while Henry County is two games behind at 3-0. This will be the Ladyhawks first game in a week since their weekend games were postponed because of inclement weather.

The Raiders, who are 13-1 overall, lost a non-region game against Westside-Macon Saturday after its Friday night game against Monticello was postponed.

"They are in sort of the same boat as we were with no game on Friday," Caputa said. "We may be a little off step at first, but it is no big deal. They were just able to play one more game than we were this weekend."

Although his team is state-ranked and currently in the region lead, Northeast coach Alvin Copeland is hardly satisfied.

"Well, we've enjoyed a little bit of success, but I want us to make a little more progress than what were making right now," he told the Macon Telegraph last week.

Henry County boy's coach Vincent Rosser is a little more concern about his team not playing in a week heading into its showdown with the Raiders, who are also 13-1 overall. Like the school's girls team, Northeast is leading the region.

"It's a big, big game," Rosser said. "I'm concerned about us not having played in a week. They had an opportunity to play so we may go out a little conservative at first. We just want the guys to get their legs under themselves."

Rosser said the team had a spirited practice with a lot of enthusiasm.

"It was a good practice," Rosser said.

Northeast has excelled under first-year coach Kerry Sandifer, a graduate of the school. Prior to taking over at Northeast, Sandifer had successful runs at Stephenson and Lakeside-DeKalb in the metro area. He took Lakeside to a final four appearance in the late 1990s.

The Northeast offense is fueled by senior point guard Mike Palmer, who is 5-foot-11. Against Central-Macon last week, he had 29 points.

"I don't think I've played with, and I definitely have not coached, a player with his intelligence," Sandifer told the Macon Telegraph. I think that's what separates him. He's never in a hurry. He makes great decisions. He has the skill to complete it all."

Rosser is looking for his team to step up its pace if the Warhawks are going to make another playoff run. Last year, Henry County reached the quarterfinals before losing to region foe Greene County in the playoffs.

The Warhawks have gotten off to a disappointing 5-4 start, including a 1-2 record in the region. Rosser said that the bench depth has not materialized as fast as he had expected coming into the season.

"I'm not pleased at all because I thought we would have a little more enthusiasm coming into the season," he said. "I thought we would have a better intensity level and a deeper bench. Not all the guys have stepped up to take on their backup roles. We had a long talk, and hopefully that problem has been corrected."