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Lady Panthers hold off upset-minded Jonesboro

By Doug Gorman

dgorman@news-daily.cpom

The fist time No. 10-ranked Forest Park played Jonesboro this year, the Lady Panthers crushed the Lady Cardinals 76-57.

Friday night the result was the same, a 55-45 victory for the Region 4-AAAA-leading Lady Panthers, but it was anything but easy, as for a time, it looked like Jonesboro might pull off their biggest upset of the year.

Forest Park's lackluster performance for the first two periods might be blamed on the Lady Panthers looking head to today's game against No.3-ranked Southwest DeKalb.

But Forest Park head coach Steve Cole doesn't buy into that argument.

"Anytime you play a team for a second time, it's going to be different," he said.

Jonesboro played really hard and made a game out of it. I'm not saying we played a bad game, they were just really prepared, and my hats off to them."

With the victory, Forest Park's record jumps to 16-2 overall and 10-0 in the league. The Lady Cardinals fell to 7-11 overall and 4-7.

Forest Park led 12-10 at the end of the first quarter, but the Lady Panthers needed a run late in the period to take control of the game.

Jonesboro's Kierra Dennis hit two 3-point shots in the first period to help the Lady Cardinals snag the early momentum. Her second trey of the quarter pushed the visiting Lady Cardinals to a 10-5 lead.

Forest Park then went on a 7-0 run to close out the period paced by Yamaya Crawford's 3-point shot.

The two teams took turns exchanging the lead in the second quarter as the squads went into the halftime break tied at 22-22.

Forest Park made just two shots from the field in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer from Jessica Anderson. Jonesboro put up the bulk of its second-quarter points by converting 8-of-11 free throw attempts.

The Panthers extended the lead to 44-36 at the end of the third quarter. Ashlee Cole, who only scored two points in the first half, drilled two 3-points as part of an 11-point third period. She also dished off on several assists, including on a perfect pass to Anderson, who drained a 3-point shot to push the Lady Panthers' lead to 42-33.

Forest Park shutdown Jonesboro in the fourth quarter, limiting the Lady Cardinals to just three field goals.

Forest Park was led by Cole's 13 points and Keyona Allen's 11 points. The Lady Cardinals Dennis led all scorers with 16, including three 3-point shots.'

Steven Cole looks for a hard fought battle today when his team entertains Southwest DeKalb in a 4 p.m. start.

"We jsut need to get back to playing Panther basketball," he said.

Jonesboro boys get region win: The Jonesboro Cardinals defeated the Forest Park Panthers 65-49 Friday night on the road in a Region 4-AAAA contest.

Still, Jonesboro head coach Daniel Maehlman was puzzled by the way his team played at times against the last place Panthers.

"I don't know what it is, but we get up for the better teams in the region and don't always play well against teams in the middle of the pack. I didn't say a lot to them at half time, I just reminding them, basketball is supposed to be fun, and it didn't really look like we were having fun tonight.

Jonesboro only led 12-10 at the end of the first quarter and just 27-23 at the break when Rasham Suarez finshed off an 11-point first half with a 3-point shot right before the break.

The Cardinals pulled out to the game's first double-digit lead with 1:58 to go in the third quarter when James White knocked down a shot.

Late in the third quarter, Malikki Priester cut into the lead for Forest Park, converting a traditional three-point play, but by the start of the fourth quarter Jonesboro lead 45-34.

Suaez ended the night with 15 points of the Cardinals. White added 20 for the Cardinals.

Priester finished with 17 for the Panthers.

Jonesboro improved its record to 9-9 overall and 7-4 in region action. Forest Park fell to 2-16 and 1-9.