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Replacing Ringer is key for Eagle's Landing

From Staff Reports

Since Eagle's Landing sophomore center Desmond Ringer went down with a knee injury on the first play against Henry County on Jan. 18, much has changed in how the Golden Eagles operate on the court. Not much has changed in the result.

Eagle's Landing is 2-0 since Ringer suffered his knee injury, beating Eastside (52-48) and Union Grove (65-63) in overtime, but not without plenty of challenges.

"When (Ringer) first went down we were down and out," Eagle's Landing senior guard Aaron Horton said, "but after a day or so we had to get over it. We had to move on and play without him."

The Golden Eagles (13-3, 6-3 Region 4-AAA) have had to adjust to life without Ringer's 6-foot-8 presence. Rebounding has become more of a team effort. Eagle's Landing has transformed from a half-court team into one that plays faster.

"Everything's a litter harder," Eagle's Landing coach Clay Crump said. "Points in the paint go away ... and we have to get used to guys being in new spots."

One of those guys has been senior David Key. The 6-foot-4 forward played significant minutes off the bench throughout the past two seasons, but Key said he's had to get used to the mentality as a starter.

"I just knew I had to step up my game," Key said. "I know my team really needs me. I just come in the morning and work hard to get my game on full tilt."

Crump has also called on senior Jaylun Smith increasingly since Ringer's injury, and he'll need Key, Smith and others to fill in even more now that Ringer's injury has been diagnosed as a tear in his left ACL, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season. Ringer won't resume basketball activities until October.

But Horton said Eagle's Landing's outlook for this season won't be effected the Golden Eagles' misfortune.

"It's going to be hard without that 6-foot-8 presence, but I think we'll be fine," Horton said. "If everybody just steps up and fills their role we can contend for a region title."

ON A ROLL: With only five games left on the regular season schedule, the Lovejoy Wildcats have picked the perfect time to catch fire.

Lovejoy is on a five-game winning streak and is ranked third in the latest Class AAAA PrepCountry.com/GACA Coaches' Poll with a 17-2 overall record. More importantly, the Wildcats are 12-0 in the Region 4-AAAA standings. Lovejoy moves up one spot after being ranked fourth last week.

The Wildcats' most recent success includes a 55-48 victory against Banneker Tuesday night. Jermaine Hough led the way with 10 points. Justin Touyo finished the region contest with 6 points and 10 rebounds.

Lovejoy has games left against Mundy's Mill, Tri-Cities and Forest Park. The Wildcats then close out the season with back-to-back games against North Clayton.

DIFFERENT GAMEPLAN: In the first meeting between Jonesboro and North Clayton, Cardinals coach Dan Maehlman used a combination of players on Marcus Hunt. It was to no avail as the high-scoring North Clayton junior scored 47 points in the Eagles' victory.

Maehlman changed his strategy Tuesday when the teams met. He decided to let senior Jordan Enadeghe guard the 6-foot-5 Hunt one-on-one. Coming into the game, Hunt was averaging 25 points per game and had scored in double figures in 16 games.

Tuesday, Hunt was held to only nine points as the Cardinals got a 47-37 win.

"Jordan was huge for us," Maehlman said. "He is a really great kid. He executed everything perfect."

Jordan said he wasn't nervous about guarding one of the top junior players in the country.

"In practice before the game, coach came up to me and said that I get Marcus," Enadeghe said.

"I was looking forward to the challenge. I'm glad I was able to help my team win. It was a tough assignment. I knew I was going to have to make him work hard on both ends to try and get him tired."

Offensively, the 6-foot-3 Enadeghe finished with 11 points on five of six shooting and also contributed five rebounds.