Records, seeding don't matter in state playoffs-Derrick Mahone

For the 256 teams that qualified for this weekend's state basketball tournament, it is a new season.

As far as Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman is concerned, you can throw out the records and seedings. There are 17 teams in the Southern Crescent that are vying to still be playing on championship weekend next month.

This has made for an interesting week for coaches throughout the state as they tried to gather film and scouting reports on the upcoming opponent. For the most part, it will be the first many of the players had ever heard of their opponent.

Preparing for the state playoffs to some coaches is a little easier than the region tournament, although the teams are more familiar with that opponent.

"Trying to beat a team for a third time in some cases is tough," said Maehlman, whose team won the Region 4-AAAA tournament last weekend. "My biggest thing as a coach has been to get to the state playoffs, because once you get there it doesn't matter if you are a one- or four-seed.

You have a chance to win regardless."

Maehlman is talking from experience as he has taken a No. 4 seed on the road to beat a No. 1 seed.

At this point in the season, teams will not be trying to change much. They will tweak a few offensive and defensive sets, but the majority of what got them to this point in the season will stay the same.

Most coaches have seen film on their opponent to get a feel for their personnel, but big changes are rarely the norm.

"Once you've seen the opponent on film you kind of get a feeling of what you can do," he said. "But again, I've been a No. 4 seed and won at another team's place."

Teams will apply the strategy that you should play the game, not the opponent. There is a great mystery that surrounds the playoffs.

"You really don't know much about your opponent, but your opponent doesn't know you either," Jonesboro point guard Rasham Suarez said.

Jonesboro boys and Forest Park girls are on long winning streaks.

Jonesboro has won 13 straight games while Forest Park is riding a 14-game streak into the state playoffs.

But coaches and players on both teams are smart enough to know that just showing up for the game will not translate into a win.

"We know no one is going to give us anything," Forest Park junior Cydni Bivins said. "Our goal is to go farther in the state this season, so we have to be really focused."

From here on out, it's win or go home.

Derrick Mahone is a staff writer with the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.