Forest Park coach Steven Cole will lead the Panthers into the program’s seventh straight state tournament when they host Northside-Warner Robins tonight. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
GHSA PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Evans at Drew, 7 p.m.
Mount Zion at Greenbrier, 7 p.m.
Northside-Warner Robins at Forest Park, 6
Jonesboro at Rutland, 6 p.m.
North Clayton at Rutland, 7:30 p.m.
JONESBORO — After a frantic week of region tournaments, four teams from the county survived, and will move on to the state playoffs.
Drew was the lone team from the area to capture a region championship when the Titans defeated county-rival Forest Park in the finals of the Region 4-AAAAA Tournament.
Both Drew and Forest Park will host first round playoff games while Mount Zion and Jonesboro hit the road for the first round.
Teams that survive the first round will have a couple of days to rest as the second round is scheduled for Monday. The abbreviated playoffs are a result of the snow and ice storm that hit the metro Atlanta area two weeks ago.
But no one seems to be complaining about the schedule as they look towards the postseason.
“You have to be excited about this time of year,” Drew senior Lakiah Sims said. “We are very excited about the playoffs.”
Here is a look at the teams from the area that will participate in the postseason:
Evans at Drew: Since the school opened in 2009, Drew has made the state tournament three times. The Titans will be looking to change their luck in the postseason after losing in the first round the previous two appearances. Drew will be looking to control the tempo of the game against the Knights, who are led by senior Jasmine Stone. The guard is averaging 22.8 points per game. Drew comes into the game on an 11-game winning streak, which included two wins over Forest Park, including Tuesday in the Region 4-AAAAA championship game.
Mount Zion at Greenbrier: Mount Zion will be making just its fourth state playoff appearance since the school opened in 1989. The Bulldogs are hoping to turn around their fortunes of late as they enter the playoffs having lost four of its last five games. However, those losses came against some of the top teams in the region — Forest Park (twice), Drew and Starr’s Mill. Mount Zion is led by Ty Parks, who is averaging 12 points per contest and Tyeisha Juhan, who is averaging 12.5 points. The Wolfpack have won nine straight, including the Region 2-AAAAA championship, heading into the postseason. Greenbrier, which is averaging 61 points per game is led by three players in double figures. Jennifer McMahan is averaging 16.5 points while Morgan Taylor is chipping in 14 points and Destiny Marshall is averaging 13.5 points per game.
Northside-Warner Robins at Forest Park: On paper, this looks like an evenly matched game as Forest Park is averaging 50 points per game while the Eagles are at 49 points per contest. Tia Williams lead the Eagles with a 9.1 points per average while Breasia McElrath averages 10.5 points to lead Forest Park, which reached the Class AAAAA semifinals last season. Northside has reached the second round of state the last two seasons.
Jonesboro at Rutland: Jonesboro had a rocky Region 4-AAAA tournament, struggling in the quarter finals against 4-18 Eagle’s landing, and losing in the semifinals before rebounding for a consolation finals win. Rutland lost 61-53 to Mary Persons in the Region 2-AAAA championship game to snap a six-game winning streak. The Hurricanes are 21-4 overall and 9-1 on the road this season. The Macon school opened in 2003, and has been to the state playoffs the last five seasons. Last season, Rutland lost in the first round of the state playoffs. Jonesboro is 17-9 overall and 7-1 at home. The Cardinals are led by Region 4-AAAA Player of the Year Michaelle Smith, who is averaging 18.9 points and 15.3 rebounds per game.