Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro coach Lamar Harris calls the region tournament a “new season” as his team takes on Griffin tonight in the semifinals.
JONESBORO — Don’t worry because Lamar Harris isn’t confused when talking about his Jonesboro squad.
The first-year Lady Cardinals coach knows exactly what time it is, and is fully aware of the fact that there is still a lot of basketball left to be played in the season.
So when you hear of him talking about “last season” and “the new season,” just remember he is talking about this season — just different parts of it.
“This is playoff time,” Harris said. “This is a new season. Last season was the regular season and now in the tournaments it’s a whole new season. Anything can happen.”
Just ask Griffin.
The Lady Cardinals’ opponent in the Region 4-AAAA tournament’s semifinas accomplished “anything” by pulling off arguably the biggest upset so far in postseason play. The Lady Bears knocked off Dutchtown — a team that stayed on pace with Woodland and Jonesboro as being counted among the region’s best all season — Tuesday 46-45 .
The win gave Griffin its first state tournament berth in 12 years. But don’t count Harris among those shocked by the result.
“I knew it would be a good game,” Harris said. “(Griffin) did a good job. Like I said, this is a new season. And throughout last season you watch teams improve as the season progressed.”
And he’s not just talking about Griffin either. Jonesboro, after starting off the season 3-3, has reeled off 19 straight wins. In fact, the only team with a longer winning streak is Woodland — the last team to defeat the Lady Cards.
The 57-50 loss at the hands of the Lady Wolfpack on Dec. 8, is the last time Jonesboro has tasted defeat. Credit that to the mature psyche of Harris’ team.
“We’ve just been keeping that mindset in the right place,” Harris said. “Keeping them understanding that that anything can happen. I’ve been around this game a while, and I’ve seen many times where the teams with the best record in the region lose way before they can even get to the final.”
To keep that from happening, Jonesboro will have to hold off an upstart Lady Bears squad that has shown it can score bunches of points in flurries.
During Griffin’s shocker over Dutchtown, the Bears overcame a 14-0 first quarter deficit by scoring the next 20 points and never trailing again.
A win like that can tend to give a struggling team confidence. Prior to that game, the Bears had lost four of its last five contests.
But Harris said the Bears abilities don’t concern him. No disrespect to Griffin, of course. He just chooses an inward focus.
“I don’t like to worry about what the other teams do,” he said. “I concentrate on what we need to do about how we need to be successful.”
If the Lady Cardinals can score like they did against Upson-Lee Tuesday, it might be more than Griffin can handle. Jonesboro scored a season high 74 points en route to a 74-21 thumping of the Lady Knights.
Senior point guard Victoria Florence had a game-high 20 points, knocking down five three pointers in the process.
But Florence, for all of her sharpshooting prowess, is not the Lady Cardinals’ only offensive threat.
“The good thing about our team is that, especially as we got toward midseason, we’d look up and the leading scorer has eight points,” Harris said. “Which means everyone contributes. Anyone from 1-12 can be our leading scorer. If Victoria’s hot, she has the green light to shoot. If the shots aren’t falling for her, she’s our point guard. She knows how to get everyone else involved.”