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Mother Nature keeping teams off the court

By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

Mother Nature appears to be the winner in this season's first Region 4-AAAA contest between No. 3 Lovejoy and North Clayton, which was scheduled for this evening.

With the cancellation of classes for the second straight day in Clayton County because of inclement weather, the key region matchup has been postponed. No makeup date has been set yet.

The Georgia High School Association offices in Thomaston were closed on Monday because of the weather conditions.

After North Clayton's 79-78 comeback win over No. 7 Jonesboro Friday, the Eagles' match up with Lovejoy was shaping up to be another big region showdown. In the Jonesboro win, North Clayton guard/forward Marcus Hunt scored a career-high 47 points, including 24 in a crucial fourth-quarter comeback.

The Eagles were down as many as 16 points in the second half.

"We have really been playing well lately," Eagles coach Martisse Troup said. "Our guys were looking forward to the game. The layoff shouldn't hurt us any."

Lovejoy coach Rick Francis agreed.

The time off will give Wildcats guard Leroy Merritt more time to rest his injured ankle. Merritt, a senior, injured the ankle during the Christmas break.

"I'm not complaining about the snow," Francis said. "It could work out good for us. The snow has done us some justice. We have been playing well and doing the things that we need to do on defense."

The Wildcats are currently in first place in the region with a 9-0 mark in league play while North Clayton is tied for third place with Tri-Cities with a 5-3 record. Jonesboro is in second place at 6-2.

Lately, North Clayton has proved to be a second-half team. In three games in the Lake City Classic at Allatoona High, the team had to come from 12 points behind in two wins. The Eagles lost in the finals of the tournament to the host team despite a 30-point effort from Hunt, who was named tournament MVP.

"We have to stop waiting to the second half to start playing basketball," Troup said.

"At some point in the season, it will catch up with us."

Troup is hoping that the win over Jonesboro will further boost the team's confidence. Saturday, the Eagles defeated rival Drew by three points after nearly blowing a 20-point lead according to Troup.

"We let them comeback," Troup said.

"We know Hunt will come to play every night. Our goal is to keep winning. Our win against Jonesboro was ugly, but we will take the win."