Lady Bears finally learn first-round opponent

Griffin High’s Aaliyah Duranham (22) works down low as McIntosh’s Bella Duiser (10) guards down low during the finals of the Region 2-AAAAA Tournament on Feb. 12 at Whitewater High School in Fayetteville.

On Saturday the Griffin High girls basketball team finally learned — nearly 72 hours before tipoff — which team it opens against when the Class AAAAA State Tournament begins Tuesday.

For the record, the No. 13-state ranked and Region 2-AAAAA champion Lady Bears (16-7) are scheduled to face Region 3-AAAAA fourth-place and No. 27-ranked Jonesboro (10-10) 6 p.m., Tuesday at The House in Griffin.

The winner advances to a second-round game Feb. 26-27 to take on the winner between No. 24-ranked and Region 4-AAAAA runner-up Eagles Landing (11-12) and No. 18-ranked and Region 1-AAAAA third-place Wayne County (12-7).

BETTER BENCH vs. DEEPER BENCH

When Griffin High boys head coach Joseph Wilder was asked to assess his team’s opening-round game 6 p.m., Wednesday at defending state champ, No. 5-state ranked and Region 3-AAAAA runner-up Woodward Academy (16-6) in College Park.

“They’re not the same team they were last season,” he noted.

“If you take away our two forfeit losses, we have about the same record,” Wilder added, during a tournament the Bears come into with a 13-9 record.

The War Eagles have two primary scorers — Will Richards (24.0 ppg) and Logan Stephens (19.7 ppg), he further noted.

Wilder also said the starting five on both sides were fairly even and added of their respective benches, “they’re a little deeper than I thought, but we have a better bench.”

The winner advances to a second-round game Feb. 26-27 to take on the winner between No. 4-state ranked and Region 1-AAAAA champion Veterans (21-0) and Region 4-AAAAA fourth-place Union Grove (9-16).

LONG ROAD

The local team with the longest road trip to start the state playoffs this week is Region 4-AAAA third-place Spalding County.

The No. 6-state ranked Lady Jags (13-3) have to travel some two hours and 20 minutes south to Albany to take on Region 1-AAAA runner-up and No. 14-ranked Dougherty (10-8), 6 p.m., Tuesday in the opening round of the Class AAAA State Tournament.

The winner advances to a second-round game Feb. 26-27 against Region 3-AAAA champion and No. 29-state ranked Jenkins (10-10) and Region 2-AAAA fourth-place and No. 28-ranked Kendrick (6-12).