Photo by Jerry Jackson
Mount Zion will be counting on Jacksonville signee J.R. Holder to help lead the Bulldogs to a state playoff berth. The 6-foot-7 senior was recently chosen the region player of the year.
It’s tournament time.
For some teams it means a second chance on their season, while others will feel the pressure to continue their momentum.
Lose at the wrong time in the tournament, and it’s the offseason.
“We have had a good couple days of preparation,” Drew boys coach Jarrod Davis said.
If the Titans win its 5:30 p.m. game on Monday against Whitewater, they will secure a state tournament berth for the third straight season.
Dutchtown first-year coach Terry Herrod calls this time of year “sudden-death basketball” because his team needs only one win to extend its season in the state playoffs.
However, the task will not be easy as Dutchtown takes on Riverdale on Wednesday.
“This time of year is very exciting basketball,” Herrod said. “One thing about the region tournament is everybody has the same record. It is win one or go home. It is sudden-death basketball now.”
Defending Region 4-AAAA champion North Clayton has had a roller coaster season as it played without all-state player Marcus Hunt, who is now a freshman at Georgia Tech. Senior Stafan Bradley has provided the Eagles with some offensive firepower.
Last season, North Clayton reached the Class AAAA semifinals.
In all, four teams in Region 4-AAAA made state semifinal appearances. In addition to North Clayton, Jonesboro boys and girls played in the semifinals and Eagle’s Landing was a semifinalist in Class AAA.
“This time of year is very crucial,” North Clayton coach Martise Troup said. “Our players know what is at stake.”
Troup said last Tuesday’s win over Griffin was like a playoff game because it secured the No. 3 spot. The Eagles will take on Stockbridge on Wednesday with the winner securing a state playoff berth.
Mount Zion standout J.R. Holder has some advice for teams heading into tournament play.
“You can’t take anybody for granted,” said the Jacksonville signee.
“You have to be ready on every night,” Troup said. “Everybody will be bringing their A-game this team of year. No one wants to go home.”
Region 4-AAAA preview
When: Feb. 9-16
Where: Dutchown on Feb. 9-11; Woodland on Feb. 13, 15-16
Boys overview: All indications point to a Jonesboro-Eagle’s Landing rematch in the championship game. Both teams come into the region tournament on a roll. Jonesboro has won 10 straight games since a controversial overtime loss to Eagle’s Landing on Jan. 8. Eagle’s Landing has won 11 straight and scored at least 100 points in three of those games. Riverdale could be a darkhorse in the region tournament title chase with standout post player Quincy January. Dutchtown will also bring an athletic group into the tournament led by Minnesota football signee Donovahn Jones.
Girls overview: Barring any major upset, the region’s two best teams — Woodland and Jonesboro — should meet on Feb. 16 to decide the region title. Woodland won the earlier matchup 57-50 on Dec. 4. The Lady Wolfpack enter the region tournament on a 23-game winning streak. Jonesboro seems to be peaking at the right time with a 12-game winning streak and returning all-state center Kimberly Dawkins has been a force in the paint. Dutchtown and Riverdale look to play the spoiler role and Griffin has played well in spurts.
Region 4-AAAAA preview
When: Feb. 9, 11, 12,14 and 15
Where: Ola High School
Boys overview: Mount Zion has made the turnaround from worst to first this season with its Subregion A title. Seniors J.R. Holder and Cody Simmons have been two of the most dominating players in the league. Drew has made a progression this season after losing it entire lineup and reserves from last season’s Class AAA state runner-up team. If Drew can get by its first round matchup against Whitewater on Monday, the Titans will play McIntosh in the semifinals on Thursday. Mundy’s Mill opens the tournament Saturday against Northgate with the winner taking on McIntosh, the Subdivision B champion, on Monday for a berth into the state tournament. Union Grove could be a sleeper in the tournament, and Ola seems to still be a year away from being a serious contender.
Girls overview: Forest Park has cruised to the Subregion A division title. Amazingly, the Lady Panthers played a great deal of the season without junior point guard Kayla Potts, who entered the season recovering from a knee injury. With the combination of Potts and junior center Tiffany Wilson, the Lady Panthers could be headed towards the region tournament finals. McIntosh won the Subregion B title and is led by senior Gabby Seilor, who was named the region’s top player. Mundy’s Mill hopes to have point guard Moneshia Dyer back in the lineup after sustaining an ankle injury. Drew’s young team seems to be playing well at the right time.