Clayton State coach Dennis Cox said his team has shown character and fight as it has turned around a three-game losing streak into three straight wins. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
The season was starting to look bleak for defending Peach Belt Conference champions Clayton State as they were in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
It was the first time in the coach Dennis Cox era that the Lakers had lost that many games in a row.
As Clayton State enters Saturday’s game against division-leading North Georgia, it is now on a three-game winning streak that will be pivotal to conference tournament seeding. The Lakers are 11-5 overall and 6-3 in the conference while North Georgia is 12-2 and 7-1 entering the 1:30 p.m. contest.
“Our team is kind of playing with their backs against the wall,” Cox said. “We are like a cornered animal. We know the situation, and we know we have to dig our way out a hold or dig it deeper.”
The graduation of four starters, and some injuries to key replacements have seen the Lakers face some unprecedented adversity.
But Cox said his team has shown “character and fight,” which has him optimistic about the rest of the season.
“We are really fighting to win a game,” Cox said. “We are focusing on the next opponent. We want to win the next game.”
And the next opponent has proven to be tough.
North Georgia defeated the Lakers 93-81 earlier this year in Dahlonega behind a big effort from Nighthawk post Mimi Hill as she scored 36 points and pulled eight rebounds in the game.
The Lakers continue to be led by senior post Shacamra Jackson, who is averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per game. Hill leads the Nighthawks and ranks third in the Peach Belt Conference at 22 points per game to go along with seven rebounds.
Clayton State leads in the all-time series 19-11 and had won 13 straight over the Nighthawks before the loss earlier this year, dating back to the 2006-07 season.
The Lakers started the season ranked No. 3 in the country, but has since dropped out the rankings.
“North Georgia is the best team in our league,” Cox said. “We will have to work real hard. We had no choice but to grow up this season. We could have folded, but this team has way too much character.”