As the calendar turns to a new year and all teams get back in action Friday night, two of the three teams are on track to shatter last year’s win-loss records while one team might be on pace for its fourth straight 20-win season.
The Griffin High Bears are currently 8-4 overall and 3-2 in Region 4-AAAA play under second-year head coach Prelvis Paster — good enough for fourth place in the Division B standings. What a difference a year makes: Last season, the Bears didn’t win their eighth game until the first game of the 2011-12 region tournament. Griffin finished 10-18 last year.
The Bears started off pretty hot this season, winning their first four games for their best start to a season in years. The Bears had a chance to go 5-0 to start the campaign but a 53-48 home loss to Dutchtown ended the win streak. Griffin lost two of its next three games after the Dutchtown game, including a 74-41 trouncing at the hands of current region power Eagle’s Landing, whose size and shooting ability wore Griffin down that night.
Griffin was playing those games without a few injured players including senior shooting guard Tae Mayes, who suffered a broken finger on his shooting hand. Mayes’ shooting touch would’ve helped in some of those games, but even he would’ve been hard-pressed to help Griffin against Eagle’s Landing as the Bears missed 37 shots (including 1 of 17 from 3-point range) in that contest.
Griffin rebounded with a sweep of Lamar County and a split in the Lamar County Christmas Tournament (Mayes played in the second tourney game) to sit at 8-4 overall. The Bears will start Division B play Friday night at first-place Jonesboro High (9-2, 4-0) at 7:30 p.m. The game will be a rematch of the teams’ first-round Class AAAA state playoff game from last season, a contest Jonesboro won 52-40 to end Griffin’s season.
The Spalding Jaguars are 6-4 overall and 3-1 in Region 4-AAAA play under new Jags head coach Kemo Spear, good enough for a 3rd place tie with Riverdale in the Division B standings. Last year, the Jags went 8-18.
This year, Spalding started 2-2 (including a big loss to ELHS, 60-38) but won three of its next four games before participating in the Meriwether County Holiday Tournament to sit a 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the region.
Spear, who took over this year from one-year head coach Terry White, stressed ball pressure on defense and balanced scoring on offense and the Jags have responded this season. Spalding split two games in the holiday tournament for its 6-4 record. The Jags begin Division B play Friday night at Riverdale (8-6, 4-2) at 7:30 p.m. for sole possession of second place.
Griffin Christian is at 8-6 overall and 1-1 in GISA Region 4-AA play, good enough for a third-place tie in the standings. Last year, GC was 7-3 in the first half of the year en route to a 20-8 finish as GISA state runners-up in Class AAA. The Crusaders started this year well, winning four of its first six games but they have gone 4-4 since. GISA No. 4 state-ranked GC got off to a hot start as head coach Mic Savage inserted guard Aaron McCray as the starting point guard, which freed up guards Jonathan Hammond and Wil Savage from handling the ball constantly and they were able to get more open looks.
If the Crusaders can be more consistent in the second half, they have a shot to reach the 20-win plateau again. GC travels to face GISA No. 3 state-ranked LaGrange Academy (5-3) in Region 4-AA action Friday at 7:30 p.m. It will be the first region game for LaGrange.