By Doug Gorman
A year ago, Forest Park girls basketball coach Steve Cole was patrolling the sidelines as head coach of the boys team.
With his daughter Ashlee now a sophomore starter, and one of the top scorers on the Lady Panthers' squad, Cole decided to jump over and coach the girls team this season.
His decision to stick with the family ties has paid dividends, as the Lady Panthers are off to one of the best starts in school history with a 15-2 overall record and a 9-0 mark in Region 4-AAAA.
Cole has enjoyed his move to the girls' game.
"Girls tend to take your word more that something you are trying might work faster than guys might," Cole said. "That's what I like about coaching the girls."
The undefeated league record is good enough for first place in the region.
It also puts the Lady Panthers tied for 10th in this week's Class AAAA Georgia Sports Writers' poll with Madison County.
"We really don't pay too much attention to rankings, we know it is important to be there come state tournament time," Cole said.
Forest Park puts its state ranking on the line tonight against Clayton County rival Jonesboro in a key Region 4-AAAA contest.
It will be a rematch from when the two teams played earlier this year at Jonesboro with the Lady Panthers winning 76-57.
The Lady Panthers will find out just how good they are on Saturday when they play against No-3 ranked Southwest DeKalb.
Southwest Dekalb plays Forsyth Central in a Region 6-AAAA game tonight before playing host to Forest Park in the non-region game on Saturday.
Cole expects a challenge tonight against Jonesboro, and doesn't expect his club to look past the Lady Cardinals to Saturday's game with the state ranked Southwest DeKalb squad.
"We know Jonesboro is going to be tough," he said.
"They play hard and they won't quit. We aren't about to look past them just because Southwest DeKalb is ranked. Beating Jonesboro is more important because they are in our region."