North Clayton (12-12 overall, 9-6 Region 4-AAAA Div. B) did what it had to do Tuesday to secure third place in the subregion standings, holding off the hard-charging Spalding Jaguars, who were one game behind NC in the standings.
The win for the Eagles means they will face the Dutchtown Bulldogs (2nd in Div. A) in the Region 4-AAAA Tournament on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Woodland-Stockbridge, with the winner clinching a state playoff berth. Spalding, 58-56 winners over Upson-Lee Tuesday, has to settle for the fourth seed and like Griffin must play two tournament games to clinch state.
The fifth-place Bears fall to 12-12 overall and 6-9 in region play. The Bears have garnered no momentum for the Region 4-AAAA Tournament play-in game next week: They have lost three straight games and 7 of their last 8. The Bears started the season 4-0 and finished the first half of the season at 8-4; they finished the second half of the season with a 4-8 mark.
Griffin will play the Woodland-Stockbridge Wolfpack (4th seed in Div. A) Monday, Feb. 11 at 8:30 p.m. at Dutchtown High in the region play-in game; if they win that contest, they will play the familiar Jonesboro Cardinals (1st in Div. B) Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at Woodland-Stockbridge for the chance to clinch a state playoff berth.
In Tuesday’s regular-season finale, both Griffin and North Clayton couldn’t get much going early and ended the first quarter tied at 12. North Clayton then realized what was at stake and they started to roll.
The Eagles blitzed the Bears 19-4 in the second quarter to take a 31-16 halftime lead and weren’t challenged by the Bears until the fourth quarter. Griffin only scored 4 points in the second quarter for the second straight game.
North Clayton flew all over The House in the third quarter, taking a 44-27 lead into the final stanza. Griffin tried to make a comeback, cutting the lead to 8 at 52-44 with 2:37 left in regulation, but the Bears could get no closer.
Rayshod Armstrong was the only Bear in double figures with 16 points. Stafan Bradley led North Clayton with 21 points and Devin Lewis added 18 -- including NC’s first 8 points of the fourth quarter.