The old coaches cliché of, “There’s no tomorrow,” has been repeated several times this week.
Now is the time to bring your A-game, or it will be the offseason.
Starting this weekend, region tournaments will be in full swing as teams from across the state will try to earn state playoff berths.
This, for most basketball junkies, is the most exciting time of the season. There is nothing like the pressures of playoff basketball.
“This is the time of year that teams really get after it,” Dutchtown coach Terry Herrod said. “You know if you lose, you can be going home.”
For many teams, they just need to win one game and a state playoff berth is secure.
While teams have spent the last three months building impressive resumes, it now boils down to one game to decide their future. And for the teams that have stumbled along the way this season, they get a shot at redemption.
Add those two together and it is the ingredients for some good basketball tournaments.
Basketball fans looking to be a part of the tournament excitement have choices in the Southern Crescent as Dutchtown, Woodland and Ola will play host to tournaments.
Last season, five teams from the area reached the Final Four of their respective classification while Drew advanced to the Class AAA title game.
But before teams can think about state tournament, they must find a way to survive their region tournament. And coaches and players know that you can’t take any team too lightly.
“As they say, on any given night anybody can be beat,” North Clayton coach Martise Troup said.
And he should know.
Troup’s underdog team won the Region 4-AAAA tournament last season and marched all the win to the semifinals before losing a close game to Southwest DeKalb. Can the Eagles work their magic against this season?
It will be a little different without all-state player Marcus Hunt, but guard Stafan Bradley has been shouldering the offensive load.
Jonesboro is one of the most dangerous teams in Region 4-AAAA with the three-headed monster of Daniel Peace, Cameron Sutton and Patrick Petty. Throw in high-flying center Duby Okeke, and the Cardinals are a region favorite.
Eagle’s Landing has an all-star lineup with several Div. I players.
The Woodland gym should be left with plenty of memories by the time a region champion is crowned next week.
Mount Zion will be looking to add another chapter to its storybook season with a region title. Last season, the Bulldogs only won four games.
They enter the Region 4-AAAAA tournament at Ola as a subregion champion.
“It has been a journey in terms of where we were last year,” Mount Zion coach Maurice Triche said. “We saw some of the glimpses over the summer that we would be a pretty good team this year. We saw where we would continue to work out and grow. We saw during the summer that, strength-wise and skill-wise, we were ready to go.”
And now the second journey begins for all teams.
Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.