Plenty of depth: Forest Park's second five getting valuable experience

From Staff Reports

A SECOND STARTING FIVE: As Forest Park coach Steven Cole sees it, his top reserves could probably start for most teams.

Since the sixth-ranked Lady Panthers usually win by double-digits, Cole plays a lot of players through the course of the game to give his reserves some experience.

In Friday's 71-29 win over Mount Zion, Cole played 12 players with each scoring at least one point. Led by Cydni Bivins' seven points, Forest Park got 18 points from its reserve players

"I got some on the second unit that could be on the first team," Cole said. "I feel very confident in playing them."

STATE PLAYOFF BERTH: Lovejoy became the first team in the area to punch its state playoff ticket with the third-ranked Wildcats' 63-51 win over North Clayton on Saturday.

The top seed in next week's Region 4-AAAA tournament automatically gets placed in one of the semifinals game, which guarantees them a berth into the state playoffs. This will be the second straight season that the Wildcats have been to the state playoffs.

Lovejoy is idle until Friday when it travels to North Clayton for a rematch.

SCOUTING REPORT: If No. 4 Redan and No. 6 Forest Park meet in the state tournament, Mount Zion coach Rodricus Ficklin could offer both teams a good scouting report.

Ficklin's Lady Bulldogs have played both teams this season, and will meet them again later this week to close out the regular season.

Redan, which has reached the Class AAAAA Final Four five of the last six seasons, defeated Mount Zion 74-32 on Jan. 8. The Lady Bulldogs lost 71-29 to Forest Park Friday.

"They (Forest Park) are one of the best teams in the state," Ficklin said. "There is a chance they will meet Redan in the Final Four. They are both very good teams."

GAINING MOMENTUM: The Forest Park boys team has won three of its last four games, including two straight. A 48-45 win over No. 3 Lovejoy was the team's signature win during this current upswing.

Prior to its current progress, the Panthers had lost five straight games.

"I'm trying to make them realize that we should go into every game expecting to win," Panthers coach Antonio Wade said. "Beating Lovejoy is a good confidence builder-for us. We still are trying to make the state tournament."

RAINING 3s: The Dutchtown Lady Bulldogs lost a heartbreaking 56-53 decision to Griffin on Friday night, but Aisha Atwater did her part to keep her team in the game.

The senior connected on four 3-pointers. Her biggest of the night came late in the game when she cut the Grifin lead to 54-53, but it was the last Dutchtown points of the game.

COMPLETE GAME: Fifth-ranked Henry County players were excited Friday night after a dominant 70-58 win at Stockbridge, and not just because the Warhawks clinched the No. 1 seed in next week's Region 4-AAA tournament.

Many considered the win one of the most complete performances by Henry County this season, even without leading scorer Larrentis Thomas, who is sidelined with a wrist injury.

"I feel that was one of our best games, with or without Larrentis," Warhawks senior Jordan Bryant said.