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Confident Jonesboro faces No. 7 Forest Park

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Kimberly Dawkins has been a big addition to the Jonesboro team this season. The junior center has given the Lady Cardinals some size in the paint.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Kimberly Dawkins has been a big addition to the Jonesboro team this season. The junior center has given the Lady Cardinals some size in the paint.

Earlier this season, Jonesboro coach Michael House said his team’s only shot at earning state-wide respect would be to defeat a ranked opponent.

The Lady Cardinals have failed on that front on three occasions this season as they have compiled a 12-5 record and a third-place standing in Region 4-AAAA.

Jonesboro gets another shot at a ranked opponent when it travels to No. 7 Forest Park tonight for a key region contest. The Lady Cardinals are currently in third place in the region, a game behind Mundy’s Mill.

“This game is really big,” Jonesboro junior guard Ashley Hand said. “We are going to jump in there and fight, and hope we get the win.”

House is hoping to get a similar second half effort his team gave in the first meeting between the schools, which Forest Park won 47-44 at Jonesboro.

“We are not the same team that we were the first time we played Forest Park,” House said. “We showed up late in the game. I hope we come out with a lot more intensity from the start.”

Forest Park has been the dominant team in the region the last two seasons, which included a trip to the state finals last season. The defending region champions have won seven straight games to build a 15-4 overall record and 12-0 mark in the region.

The Lady Panthers enters tonight’s 6 p.m. game on a 32-game region winning streak.

Although he acknowledged that beating Forest Park will be tough, House is confident in his team’s ability.

“It is right in front of us,” House said. “We want some respect. We want to continue to be successful as we climb the region ladder for that No. 1 seed. I think we are coming together as a team.”

Jonesboro had won six straight prior to last weekend, when it lost to Mundy’s Mill 42-36 in a crucial region game. The Lady Cardinals followed that with a 65-41 loss at Laney on Monday in an M.L. King Holiday Tournament. Laney is ranked No. 6 in Class AA.

The team’s other loss to a ranked opponent was Dec. 27 to Washington County, the top-ranked team in Class AAA.

In the two recent losses, Jonesboro was without two senior players.

“We hit a little bump in the road,” House said. “We had to players to attend a volleyball tournament. It threw our chemistry off in terms of leadership. We were out of rhythm and synch. I think we now have that train back on track.”

Forest Park has won seven straight despite the lost of sophomore point guard Kayla Potts to a season-ending leg injury. In those six wins, Forest Park has scored over 60 points in a game four times.

But Jonesboro says they are ready for the challenge.

“We are looking to come out and play hard,” Jonesboro junior Kimberly Dawkins said. “All those wins have boost our confidence.”