Boys AAAA: #1 Jonesboro vs. #1 Carrollton

Photo by Ty Freeman


31-4, Region 4

With only one senior on the roster last season, the Cardinals won their first state title, and with the same cast of youthful talent returning this year, Jonesboro has been the team to beat from start to finish in Class AAAA. The Cardinals have only lost one game, which was a 92-72 loss to Montverde Academy (Fla.) in the second game of the season. After that loss, the Cardinals have rolled through the rest of their schedule, including a 71-43 thumping over Liberty County in the semifinals. James Walker Jr. who scored 30 points in the win against Liberty County leads the Cardinals. Walker averages 17 points per game and is considered one of the top sophomore prospects in the nation. In last year’s final, the young Cardinals led five-time state cham- pionship Columbia 26-16 at the half, but saw the Eagles climb back to tie it at 36 heading into the fourth period. Columbia’s experience was no match for the confidence and edge Jonesboro plays with as Dan Maehlman’s team hit 10 or 12 free throws down the stretch to clinch a 56-51 win. Tracy Hector, Jr. led the Cardinals with 19 points and 10 rebounds while freshman James Walker Jr. added 14. Hector Jr. is averaging 12 points per game this year and is coming off a 21-point performance against Liberty County. When Hec- tor Jr. and Walker are having off-nights or get caught trying to force things, the surrounding cast gets going and opens back up scoring opportunities for the explosive leaders of the team. Chattanooga-signee Austin Donaldson and Deantre Mack require defensive pressure and keep defenders guessing. A win on Thursday would secure the Cardinals’ status as the best team in AAAA, but it would also leave them ranked as one of the five best teams in the country as MaxPreps has them ranked at No. 8 in the Xcellent 25 Poll.


29-2, REGION 5

After reaching the quarterfinals the last two of three seasons, head coach Tim Criswell and his Carrollton Trojans have broke through and are looking to win their first state title. After 27 years at the helm of the Trojan pro- gram, Criswell’s roster is hoping to get the long-time head coach his first state title. Criswell has won over 500 career games and already made history this year by advancing the finals for his first time. With losses only to LaGrange (64-58) in the season opener and Tri-Cities (67-59) on Dec. 27, the Trojans look like a team ready to do some big things in the Macon Coliseum. One of the main reasons for the surge this season is the play of Montae Glenn. The 6-foot-7 senior who will play at Georgia Southern next season, can play with his back to the basket and he has been frustrating opposing defenders with his arsenal of post-moves all season long. Glenn is just one of the pieces that powers the Trojans. Cooper Criswell has really come on strong as of late and he had a confidence-boosting performance in the first round of the playoffs with 13 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks. Desmond Webb’s contributions include a key free-throw late in the game against Cairo, which resulted in the 48-45 victory last Saturday. If Trojans want to take down Jonesboro, Glenn must continue im- pacting the game on both ends of the floor like he has this whole season. “We will continue to play hard-nosed man-to-man defense and mix in some zones,” Criswell stressed season. “Our offense will be centered around Montae Glenn and we will focus on a team style and approach.” The Trojans have done a good job slowing the game down and playing low-post basketball all season long. With that approach and an aggressive defensive scheme, Jonesboro will have their hands full on Thursday.

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