Photo by Derrick Mahone
Eagle’s Landing coach Clay Crump said he expects a tight contest from Jarrod Davis’ Drew Titans because they are “athletic at every position — there’s nobody that can’t defend that he has to hide.”
Eight, contrary to popular opinion, is not enough.
Region 4-AAA’s two hottest boys basketball teams collide tonight when No. 2-ranked Eagle’s Landing visits No. 7 Drew. Because they are both in the middle of eight-game winning streaks, somebody’s leaving the gym with nine in a row.
Eagle’s Landing wants to leave there with a lot more than that. The Golden Eagles (20-1, 12-0) will try to clinch first place in 4-AAA, putting their unblemished region record on the line. A win would put them 2 1/2 games ahead of Drew (19-3, 11-2), meaning the best the Titans would be able to do is tie a team that had beaten it twice.
The Golden Eagles defeated Drew in their first meeting, 74-67 on Dec. 6, but the Titans have used the intervening eight weeks to sharpen their defense. Only two teams have reached 50 points against Drew in the last eight games.
“Our defensive average is 46 points a game, so we’re not hurting in that area,” Eagle’s Landing coach Clay Crump said Monday.
Matchups like these are good for both teams going into February because the prospect of down-to-the-wire games rises in the state tournament, for which both teams look like strong bets. Though Eagle’s Landing and Drew have shown a penchant for blowing away their competition, they’ve both shown the ability to win tight ones, too — the Golden Eagles edging Henry County in the first meeting Dec. 3 and Class AAAAA’s M.L. King at the end of that month.
The Titans may need to summon the experience of a two-point win Jan. 13 against Stockbridge, when Drew coach Jarrod Davis credited “good senior leadership” for the 51-49 victory. That’s been the Titans’ narrowest victory during their hot streak; they’ve beaten everybody else by double-digits.
The Titans have spread the offensive wealth recently. In another game in which they were trying to avenge an early season defeat, Derrick Frye had 13 points and Barry Mayes 12 to lead a 74-58 victory over Henry County.
Davis has been pushing the Titans to “do a better job of rebounding and blocking out” — things that will be key if they hope to contain 6-foot-10 junior center Desmond Ringer.
The Golden Eagles are getting solid play from Eric Wortham, Keith Colquitt and, off the bench, point guard Maurice Green.
“Eric is playing exceptionally well; he made 5 of 8 3-pointers against Henry County,” Crump said. “Keith Colquitt also made three 3s. We made 10 of 20 from the 3-point line against Henry in their gym. When the right kids are shooting the right shots, we can knock them down.”
Whether both teams’ emphases on defense will lead to a lower-scoring game depends on a lot of factors.
“You never know,” Crump said. “Is it a tightly called game? Are we both going to press? So much depends on the tempo of the game. If we play fast, there’ll be more shots. If we slow down and slug it out, there’ll be less shots. He won’t tell me what they’re going to do and I’m not telling him what we’re going to do.”
Luella at East Coweta
North Clayton at Tri-Cities
Riverdale at Jonesboro
Mount Zion at Mundy's Mill
Banneker at Morrow
Alcovy at Dutchtown
Union Grove at Jones County
Griffin at Woodland
Jackson at Locust Grove
Eagle's Landing at Drew
Stockbridge at Eastside
First Presbyterian at ELCA
W.D. Mohammed at Strong Rock