Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman says conditioning is his main concern since the team hasn’t practiced in four days because of school closings. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — Could Jonesboro and North Clayton have saved the best for last?
It probably will be tough to beat the last meeting between the schools, a 54-53 win by North Clayton, but Eagles coach Martisse Troup is confident this game could be just as intense.
This will be the last regular season region meeting between the two Region 4-AAAA schools as they will be in separate regions the next two seasons. However, they will still play each other, but only for county bragging rights.
“This has been a good rivalry for the county,” Troup said. “Since both teams are young, we will play again next season. I’m sure Saturday’s game is going to be a battle.”
There is a lot riding on the line at the 7:30 p.m. game. For starters, Jonesboro and Riverdale are locked into a first place tie for Region 4-AAAA, Division B. Jonesboro won the earlier contest, and the schools are scheduled to play on Tuesday in the regular season finale. Both teams are 5-2 in the subregion with three games remaining.
North Clayton can finish no better than second if they win their last three game, and Riverdale defeats Jonesboro. Riverdale defeated North Clayton in both contest this season.
“Our goal is to finish in the top three in the subregion,” Troup said. “We have had some ups and downs this season, but I think our guys are playing well. If you finish in the top three, you only have to win one game in the region tournament to get to state.”
To add to the rivalry, Jonesboro forward Tracy Hector was a starter at North Clayton last season before being sidelined with a wrist injury.
“Our players know each other from middle school and summer ball,” Troup said. “It does add to it that one of my former players is now playing for them. I told my guys that we will be walking into a tough and hostile environment. We just have to focus on what is going on on the court.”
This will be the first game for Jonesboro in seven days because of postponements due to the inclement weather. Cardinals coach Dan Maehlman said that execution shouldn’t be a problem.
He said he is more concerned with conditioning.
“I know a lot of coaches are complaining about not practicing,” Maehlman said. “At this stage in the season, the player should already have down what you have taught them. We know being off four days will have some effect on our conditioning.”
In the last game between the two, North Clayton guard Malik Young hit a short baseline jumper with three seconds remaining to give the Eagles the win. A few seconds before the go-ahead shot, Jonesboro guard DeAndre Mack hit a 3-pointer to give the Cardinals the lead.
“It was one of those back and fourth games that never got more than a five-point leave for either team,” Troup said. “It will just come down to a matter of execution in this game.”
If Jonesboro is to clinch the subregion championship, the Cardinals will need to win it next three games. Last season, Jonesboro finished as region runner-up to Eagle’s Landing, which is in first place on the other subregion.
“Right now, records don’t mean much because all the teams in our region are so young,” Maehlman said. “One game a team can play well, and then the next they can look totally different. With young players, you never know.”