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Teams hope to use their homecourt advantage

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro basketball coach and athletics director Michael House said the school is planning a “White Out” for tonight’s basketball games against Woodland (girls) and Griffin (boys) to encourage school spirit.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Jonesboro basketball coach and athletics director Michael House said the school is planning a “White Out” for tonight’s basketball games against Woodland (girls) and Griffin (boys) to encourage school spirit.

It in no way guarantees a win, but for the seven Southern Crescent teams lucky enough to host a first-round state playoff game, it could be a big advantage.

“As a home team, you know where all the creeps are in the floor,” Jonesboro coach Michael House said, grinning.

The second-ranked Lady Cardinals host Woodland this evening in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs. House said the school has promoted a “White Out” for the 6 p.m. game, which will be followed by the boys’ team matchup with Griffin.

“We have been selling and handing out T-shirts all week,” House said. “All the students, teachers and administration seem to be into it.”

North Clayton coach Martisse Troup petitioned the Georgia High School Association earlier this week to allow his boys’ team to play on Friday, instead of Saturday. Troup’s reasoning was they could get a bigger crowd for the 6 p.m. game against Dutchtown since several students would still be on campus.

Troup says with Dutchtown only traveling a short distance, it’s really not that much of a home-court advantage.

“It really comes into play when you have a South Georgia team matched up against a team from up here,” Troup said. “You really start talking about a long travel distance in terms of four- and five-hour trips.”

Luella’s girls will be in that situation as the Lady Lions will make a three-hour, 195-mile trip to Valdosta to take on Lowndes.

But coach Eddie Pratt is downplaying any disadvantage of a long road trip.

“The way we look at it, you have to play somewhere,” he said. “It is not worth a hill of beans in worrying about where you play.”

Lovejoy coach Rick Francis agreed.

The Wildcats will make a short trip to Fayette County for a 7 p.m. doubleheader with the girls’ team.

“Because it is a short distance, it doesn’t matter,” Francis said. “If it was longer, there might be some concern.”

Players like the comfort of playing at home, but caution that it is not the only determining factor in whether you win or lose.

“It is a positive to be at home because you know your gym,” Eagle’s Landing forward Eric Wortham said. “You know the rim and how the ball bounces off of it. A big part is that you have a good student section behind you.”

Regardless of where the game is played, Wortham said both teams will bring some intensity.

“Everybody is going to play hard,” said Wortham, whose team hosts Thomson on Saturday. “At this stage, you are five wins away from winning a state championship.”

Friday’s games

Boys

Dutchtown at North Clayton, 6 p.m.

Lovejoy at Fayette County, 8:30 p.m.

Griffin at Jonesboro, 7:30 p.m.

Forest Park at Alcovy, 7:30 p.m.

Girls

Hephzibah at Drew, 6 p.m.

McIntosh at Forest Park, 6 p.m.

Woodland at Jonesboro, 6 p.m.

Mundy’s Mill at Alcovy, 6 p.m.

Lovejoy at Fayette County, 7 p.m.

Luella at Lowndes, 6 p.m.