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North Clayton prevails with strong defense

Photo by Derrick Mahone
North Clayton coach Martisse Troup gives D’Anthony Franklin (No. 20) and Justin Varner some instructions before they returned to the court during a timeout Friday in the Region 4-AAAA, Div. B contest.

Photo by Derrick Mahone North Clayton coach Martisse Troup gives D’Anthony Franklin (No. 20) and Justin Varner some instructions before they returned to the court during a timeout Friday in the Region 4-AAAA, Div. B contest.

COLLEGE PARK — After giving up the most points in almost three years — an 81-game stretch — North Clayton looked to redeem itself on Friday against visiting Griffin in a Region 4-AAAA, Div. B contest.

The Eagles were able to make amends for a poor defensive showing on Tuesday in a loss to Spalding.

With its defense pressuring Griffin, the Eagles picked up a 61-45 win on Friday in a key region matchup at home.

Eagles coach Martise Troup and his players were relieved after the win.

“We needed that,” Troup said as he headed to the team’s locker room following the game.

“We had a bad night defensively the other day against Spalding,” Troup continued. “Our goal is to be a good defensive team. We know we have to play good defense in order to win.”

Such wasn’t the case against Spalding in an 83-78 loss to the subregion’s last place team. It was a different story on Friday against visiting Griffin, which was coming off a heartbreaking overtime defeat at Riverdale on Tuesday.

The 83 points that the team surrendered on Tuesday was the most since a 96-80 loss to Stockbridge on February 19, 2010.

“This was a much better effort (Friday),” said senior guard Stafan Bradley, who led all scorers with 13 points. D’Anthony Franklin finished with 12 points for the Eagles, who improved to 10-8 overall and 7-4 in the region.

Troup said this game should give his team confidence as they take on Class AAAAAA’s Westlake on Saturday. The Eagles lost 75-49 in the season-opener between the two schools.

“We will get a big test against Westlake,” Troup said. “I was glad to see us come out and play hard, and play good defense against a quick and athletic Griffin team. We were a lot more consistent with our offense and defense. This was definitely a better game than the one we had against Spalding.”

Troup said two days of focused practice was a big key leading up to the game for the defending region champions.

Bradley, who had 34 points against Spalding, said he could tell the difference in the team’s defense on Friday.

“Our defense was outstanding,” he said. “We were talking and helping each other out. We did all the things we needed to do to play good defense.”

The Eagles jump back into subregion play on Tuesday when they take on Upson-Lee on Senior Night.

North Clayton’s mission is to finish in the top-three in the subregion heading into the region tournament next month. The No. 4 seed from its subregion must play a top 10 team in Eagle’s Landing in the first round of the region tournament to secure a spot in the state playoffs.

Last season, North Clayton reached the Class AAAA semifinals where it lost to Southwest DeKalb.

“We got all the pieces,” Bradley said. “We just need to play hard and we can compete for another region title.”