The No. 6 seed Bears (7-16 overall, 3-9 subregion A) face the No. 3 seed Upson-Lee Knights (11-13, 6-6 subregion B) in the first round of the tournament Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. at Fayette County High. Should Griffin move past the Knights, all that’s waiting for them will be either No. 7 seed Harris County (6-18, 1-11 sub B) or No. 2 seed Jones County (11-14, 8-4 sub A) in the state-qualifying second round game.
Jones County swept Griffin this year, but the team's losses to Jones were close (57-49 on Jan. 13 and 59-47 on Feb. 4) and who’s to say Griffin can’t pull the upset in round two?
“We just have to play poised. I told the guys it’s a new season and nothing we did during the regular season carries over to the region tournament,” said Bears first-year head coach Prelvis Paster. “We’ve got to give it our best shot.”
If the Bears give it their best shot Friday, they have a decent chance to beat an Upson-Lee team that has been inconsistent this year and may have confidence issues if things don’t go its way. The Knights were cruising along this season with an 8-5 overall record but hit a bad stretch where they lost five of six games, pretty much sealing their fate as an under .500 ball club.
Despite their losing record, Paster said the Knights will be a formidable opponent.
“Upson is a very athletic team and man, they finish in transition very well,” he said. “In fact, their guards finish very well in traffic. They’re a scrappy group that plays good ball down the stretch. We’ll have to be very smart Friday.”
The Bears are a young team and with several of the freshmen and sophomores garnering significant playing time in the regular season, the coaching staff hopes they will be ready to play during the second season. After all, the Bears finished 3-5 in their last eight games, their best stretch since winning four of five games earlier in the season.
“There’s no pressure on us. We’re the No. 6 seed in this tourney. All we have to do is execute and we should be alright,” Paster said. “I’m excited and I think the guys are excited to make a run and get to the state playoffs.”