Photos by Derrick Mahone
Luella's Britney Guy and North Clayton's Dionte Agard will lead their teams into the state playoffs this weekend.
They control the tempo and the flow of the game. Ask any coach about the importance of good point guard play in the postseason, and they will tell you it’s paramount to any team’s success.
“A point guard has to be an extension of you on the floor,” Jonesboro boys coach Dan Maehlman said. “He has to visualize and understand not only his role, but everyone on the team.”
Said Luella girls coach Eddie Pratt: “The point guard controls the flow. They are the ones running the show. They are the quarterback on the court.”
As the first round of the state playoffs are set to begin on Friday, most of the teams success will depend on the play of their point guards.
“I set the tempo,” North Clayton senior point guard Dionte Agard said. “Throughout the game, coach and I are always talking.”
Agard transferred this school year from Riverdale where he was a two-year starter. He has been the key piece to the team’s success, which included winning the team’s first region championship since 1993.
He is paired with all-state candidate Marcus Hunt to give the Eagles an additional scoring threat.
But, Agard had to first earn the respect of his new teammates this season.
“I had to let my game speak for itself,” Agard said. “I had to show the team I could play. They trust in me that I will make the right decision.”
Maehlman is fortunate that both of his starting guards — Daniel Peace and Cameron Sutton — can play the lead guard position. In fact, the coach says that his other two guards in the lineup can run the show if need be. Juniors Patrick Petty and Casey Wells are also able to handle the point guard duties.
“Its nice to have two players on the floor that are capable of playing the position,” Maehlman said. “It takes so relief off the other guy, and we are not relying on one player to carry the load.”
Pratt also learned the value of having more than one capable point guard on the team.
After Lady Lions starting point guard Amber Griffin sustained a torn ACL on Jan. 11, Pratt had to call on the services of leading scorer Britney Guy and Naya Martin fill that void.
“We have managed with them in control,” Pratt said.
Coming into the season, Eagle’s Landing coach Clay Crump had to replace starting point guard Aaron Horton, who graduated after leading the team to its first state semifinals appearance. Crump had to look no further than his starting forward Isaiah Dennis to fill those shoes.
The athletic Dennis has not allowed the Golden Eagles to miss a beat as they have remained ranked No. 2 in the state the majority of the season.
“He is fast and quick,” Crump said. “He has good decision-making skills and understands what we are trying to do.”
Lovejoy coach Rick Francis calls his senior point guard, Jermaine Hough, “The Maestro” because of his leadership skills.
As the lead guard, Hough, an all-state football player, said you can not be shy.
“You have to be very vocal,” Hough said. “You got to open your mouth when things are not going well. There is a lot of pressure in being the point guard, because the coach and your teammates are looking for you for leadership.”
Mundy’s Mill coach Tu Willingham has seen his point guard Moneshia Dyer develop into a team leader.
“She has been very committed,” Willingham said. “She can score, but Mo is very unselfish because she gets everyone involved. She is a big reason why we are a 20-win team.”
The value of a good point guard can not be overstated by a coach.
“I’d rather have a good point guard, than a 6-foot-8, or 6-foot-9 guy,” North Clayton coach Martisse Troup said. “Your point guard is very important to the team.”