The first major high school football item took place on the very first day of the month, Feb. 1, as the Griffin-Spalding Board of Education approved Griffin native and former Georgia Southern state football champion Nick Davis to be the head football coach at Spalding High School. Davis became the first African-American head football coach hired in the modern era in the area.
“I’m excited,” Davis said when he was approved. “As a coach, one of my dreams was always to come back home.”
Also on that day, basketball action was good for the Griffin and Griffin Christian boys teams, as the Bears beat Woodland High 49-43 on the road and the Crusaders whipped Stratford Academy 70-42 at home, respectively.
The next day, a record seven local high school seniors athletes signed letters of intent to play college football on National Signing Day — five from Griffin High and two from Spalding High. The Griffin five were Nile Daniel (Kentucky), Xzavier Dickson (Alabama), Corey Moore (Georgia), Ty Turner (South Florida) and Chandler Worthy (Troy). The Spalding two were Chris Mayes (Georgia) and Zay Sharp (Georgia Southern).
Back to basketball — thanks to 21 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks from Chris Mayes, Spalding defeated No. 10-ranked and Region 4-AAA foe Eagle’s Landing High 68-65 in overtime on Feb. 2 to clinch a second-place tie with region foe Stockbridge with four regular-season games left. It was Spalding’s sixth OT victory in six tries, a school record.
On Feb. 3, two more local athletes signed letters of intent to play college sports: Spalding standout cross country/track harrier Jenna Wesley signed to run at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and football standout Anthony Lewis of Griffin Christian signed to play college football at Mars Hill College in North Carolina.
On Feb. 4, both Spalding and Griffin girls basketball teams won their games. Jahmiya Clemons scored a career-high 41 points to help the Lady Bears beat Region 3-AAAA Div. A foe Dutchtown 56-53 on the road while Dee Dee Matthews and Twandalette Cotton scored 16 points each to lead the Lady Jags of Spalding to a 58-40 win over region foe Locust Grove at home, ending their 8-game losing streak.
On Feb. 5, Griffin Christian’s boys basketball team finished the regular season tied for second place in GISA Region 2-AAA with Arlington Christian, thanks to a 60-47 win over Tattnall Square. Also on that day, both Griffin boys and girls finished their regular seasons with home wins over region foe Jones County — the boys winning 55-41 and the girls winning 47-37. The Bears’ win put them at 9-9 on the season after starting 0-5.
Also on Feb. 5, Spalding wrestlers Will Sanders (140 pounds) and Justin Gawlowski (150) placed fourth in the area tournament to advance to the area sectionals.
Despite 21 points, 3 rebounds and 4 blocks from Caroline Smith, the GCHS Lady Crusaders lost 70-31 to Tattnall Square in the first round of the GISA Region 2-AAA Tournament at Mt. de Sales Academy in Macon on Feb. 7. GC’s girls lost their last 13 games in a row.
On Feb. 8, the GCHS Crusaders advanced to the region tournament finals with a 61-59 win over Arlington thanks to Anthony Lewis (22 points, 7 assists), Lee Neidert (18 pts., 13 rebs) and Elias Seise (10 pts., 4 assists, 7 rebs). The finish was great to the game: With the score tied a 59, guard Austin Craft passed to Neidert for a layup to put GCHS up 61-59 with 13 seconds left in the game. Arlington missed a shot and GC got the rebound and looked to end the game. But somehow, Arlington stole the ball and called timeout with 1.3 seconds left to set up a shot, but the team’s desperation heave came up short.
Other newsworthy sports happenings in the area included:
* Spalding harrier Aaron Ledet signs a letter of intent to run at Miles College in the fall. (Feb. 10)
* The Griffin boys basketball team whips Whitewater High 75-48 in the opening round of the Region 3-AAAA Tournament at Woodland High thanks to 18 points from Tae Mayes and 11 from Ty Turner. One more tourney win and the boys clinch a state tournament berth. (Feb. 10)
* The Griffin girls basketball team defeats Starr’s Mill High 49-37 in the opening round of the region tourney at Woodland High thanks to 29 points from Jahmiya Clemons and 16 from Markenda Lindsey. One more tourney win and the girls clinch a state tournament berth. (Feb. 10)
* The GCHS Crusaders were crushed 64-36 by Mt. de Sales in the GISA Region 2-AAA Tournament finals. GC trailed 15-2 at the end of the first quarter and couldn’t catch up. (Feb. 11)
* Faith Christian Academy’s boys and girls basketball teams lost to North Georgia Christian in the first round of the ICSGA league playoffs, ending their seasons. (Feb. 11)
* Spalding wrestler Will Sanders (140 lbs) qualified for the state wrestling meet with an 8th-place finish at the sectionals. (Feb. 12)
* Spalding’s girls basketball team fell to Eastside High in the first round of the Region 4-AAA Tournament at Drew High School, 64-40, ending their season. (Feb. 15)
* The Griffin High girls basketball team was beaten by McIntosh High in the state-qualifying round of the region tournament, 51-34, ending its season for the 10th year straight without a state playoff berth. (Feb. 15)
* The Griffin Bears basketball team was knocked out the region tourney by No. 3 state-ranked Fayette County High 80-68, ending its season for the 4th straight year without a state berth. (Feb. 16)
* The Spalding boys basketball team lost to Drew 65-55 in the first round of the region tournament, missing out on a state playoff berth for the first time in three years. (Feb. 16)
* Elias Seise’s 27 points and 10 rebounds leads the GC boys basketball team to a 56-38 win over The Weber School in the first round of the GISA Class AAA state playoffs. It’s was the team’s first state win ever. (Feb. 17)
* The Spalding tennis and soccer teams start well, with only the tennis girls suffering a loss to start the season. (Feb. 15-16)
* The Griffin Christian boys basketball team falls to No. 3-ranked Bethesda Day School 68-46 in the GISA Elite 8, ending its season despite 11 points from Anthony Lewis and 10 points from Elias Seise. (Feb. 19)
* The Spalding High baseball team was ranked 7th in the GACA preseason baseball poll and Griffin High defensive end Xzavier Dickson was named to the Metro Atlanta High School All-Star Team by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta. (Feb. 19)
* Spalding wrestler Will Sanders scores a point at the Class AAA state meet, winning a match but losing two to end his wrestling season. (Feb. 19)
* The Griffin High boys and girls soccer teams start the season undefeated. The Bears won three straight games to win the Lamar County. Trojan Cup and then beat Union Grove to go 4-0 while the girls beat their first three opponents. (Feb. 19, 22)
* The Spalding girls soccer team wins its home opener 2-0 over Mary Persons High to start the season 3-0. (Feb. 22)
* The No. 7 Spalding baseball team opens the 2011 season with an 8-0 win over Mary Persons on the road, but the Griffin High baseball team drops its first game of the year 17-8 to Westlake High at home. (Feb. 24-25)