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MAHONE: Hard not to have emotional ties to the communities

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As sports journalist we are supposed to be objective.

We aren’t suppose to take sides in wishing for one particular team that you cover to win over the other.

And sometimes that is hard to do. After all, we are human with feelings and emotions.

As a sports voice for the Clayton County community, naturally we like to see our teams do well. Not only does it make our jobs easier, but we do have some attachment to the players and coaches that we cover on a daily basis.

Come state tournament time, it is particularly hard for me because over the last 26 years in the business, I’ve gotten to know plenty of coaches. From North to South Georgia to the Alabama and South Carolina lines, I’ve had the pleasure of covering many games, and working with several coaches.

As Jonesboro and Columbia prepare to meet in Thursday’s Class AAAA title game in Macon, there is a part of me that would like to see a tie.

I know that isn’t possible in basketball, but there is a lot of feelings for both coaches. I’ve known Columbia’s coach Kerry Sandifer nearly 20 years. A soft-spoken man, Sandifer was always helpful during my team in covering DeKalb County when he was the coach at Lakeside High.

He has done an excellent job everywhere he has coached, but the one thing missing on his resume is a state title. He has a shot at it on Thursday.

Across from the scorer’s table at the Macon Coliseum will be the Jonesboro Cardinals. They are the team that falls into my current coverage area.

They are led by another likeable and helpful coach in Dan Maehlman.

And they there are the players that I’ve gotten to know over the course of the season. We are social media friends and follow each other on Twitter.

How can you not want them to get that championship ring?

A championship title for Maehlman and Sandifer would complete an already impressive resume for each coach.

Columbia is looking to add to its legacy, and carry on the respect that DeKalb County, and Region 6-AAAA, has earned as a basketball powerhouse.

For Jonesboro, and Clayton County, it would give them the respect that they have long been seeking.

For both teams, counties and fan bases, it is a huge game.

For a humble sportswriter, it is an emotional roller coaster — happy for the winner, but sad for the loser. It would be totally different if one of the coaches wasn’t likeable, but that isn’t the case.

Come Thursday at 8:45 p.m., the only thing I’m rooting for is a good game.

In the end, the team that plays the best will leave the Macon Coliseum with a well-deserved state title. Because of the character makeup of both teams, there really won’t be a loser, just a team that didn’t win.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com. On Twitter? @DerrickMahone_