Riverdale coach Tony Brinson has led the Raiders to the Region 4-AAAA, Division A regular-season title in his second season at the helm. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — Coaches and players have always looked at region tournaments as a second chance on the season.
A bad regular season can be overcome by a good showing in the region tournament to clinch a berth in the upcoming state playoffs. Most tournaments begun on Monday, including the Region 4-AAAA Tournament with play-in games at Jonesboro.
Now, the games shift to Griffin High with state playoff berths on the line. A win tonight in boys’ action will clinch a state playoff berth. The girls will resume play on Thursday with state tournament berths on the line.
Because of pending inclement weather, tournament play might be interrupted. The Georgia High School Association has extended the deadline to Monday for teams to finish their region tournament in case of weather issues. To help ensure that region tournaments will be completed in time, the GHSA has allowed regions to have the option to schedule teams two games in a single day, providing there is a four-hour interval between the scheduling of the games.
The first round of the state tournament will be held on Feb. 19 (girls) and Feb. 20 (boys).
Here is a look at Clayton County teams involved in the region tournament:
Jonesboro (girls): The Cardinals are the defending region champions. Led by region player of the year Michaelle Smith, the Cardinals are a favorite to repeat. They are likely to face some stiff competition from Dutchtown and Woodland, whom the Cardinals defeated in last season’s region title game. In an earlier meeting this season, Woodland defeated the Cardinals 63-55 as they were in the midst of a four-game losing streak to start the season. Jonesboro opened the season with defending state champions St. Francis, Norcross and Southwest DeKalb and to Woodland. During that stretch, the Cardinals were plagued with injuries, including Smith being sidelined. Jonesboro (16-8), which has won three straight and six of its last seven games, will be without starting guard Amoni Walker, who sustained an ACL injury.
Jonesboro (boys): The Cardinals enter today’s contest against Woodland as one of the hottest teams in the region, having won six of its last seven games. Its only loss during that stretch was to Riverdale, which cost the team the subregion No. 1 seed in the tournament. In the last three games, Jonesboro has held its opponents to 40 points or less. Last season, Jonesboro lost to Eagle’s Landing in the region championship game. The Cardinals are 19-6 overall and defeated Woodland 60-51 earlier this season. Jonesboro has three players averaging in double figures, including freshman James Walker, who is averaging a team-leading 15.1 points per game.
Riverdale (boys): A 42-40 win over Jonesboro gave the Raiders the subregion’s top seed entering the tournament. It was a rematch of an earlier contest that Jonesboro won by 18 points with several Riverdale players missing the game while taking football recruiting trips. Riverdale is 19-5 overall and has won four straight. Since that Jonesboro loss, the Raiders have won six of their last seven games. The Raiders are led by seniors Quincy January and Trey Sanders. A one-point loss to Dutchtown last season prevented the Raiders from making the state tournament.
North Clayton (boys): Don’t let the Eagles’ 10-15 record fool you. Although they are young, North Clayton has played a tough non-region schedule. They split with Jonesboro with each team winning at home, but was swept by Riverdale. North Clayton has won two straight heading into today’s 4 p.m. game against a dangerous Stockbridge team. North Clayton won the earlier matchup against Stockbridge (69-62) at home.