It’s hard to believe it is the 10th anniversary of the school’s 2003 state championship team. It seems like yesterday most of us were turning off I-75 at the Georgia Tech exit and headed to Alexander Memorial Coliseum to watch the Bears clash with South Atlanta in the title game.
Things have happened so fast since then on the hardwood at Griffin.
For openers, Bears head coach Ferris Qualls retired a few years later and tried his hand at coaching in the college ranks before passing away in February 2009.
In the meantime, Griffin is on its fourth head coach.
None have succeeded in recapturing the magic Griffin enjoyed during state title runs in 1988 and 1993 by head coach James Martin and again in 2003 by Qualls. Thereafter, Qualls guided the Bears to the Sweet 16 in 2004, Final Four in 2005 and back-to-back appearances in the Elite 8 in 2006 and 2007 before retiring.
The lul to follow was painful for Griffin High fans. The team sported records of 9-14, 10-14, 5-21 and 10-10. Even worse, the Bears went an unheard of four consecutive seasons without a state playoff appearance — not so much as a sound, not even a whimper.
Paster arrived last season in time to begin turning Griffin’s fortunes around as the Bears (10-18) made their first state playoff appearance since 2007. Never mind they lost 51-40 on the road at eventual state semifinalist Jonesboro.
At least the bleeding was stopped.
Paster is back to guide the team again. Although he believes his team is a lot further along than it was at this point a season ago, he warns Griffin’s region — Region 4-AAAA — is loaded. Fellow region teams include: Jonesboro, North Clayton, Riverdale, Upson-Lee, Spalding, Eagle’s Landing, Stockbridge, Locust Grove, Dutchtown and Woodland-Stockbridge.
For openers, Jonesboro and North Clayton made it to the Class AAAA state semifinals last season, while Eagle’s Landing made it to the Class AAA state semifinals. Griffin also has battles against archrival Upson-Lee — which for some reason always seems to match up well with Griffin — and crosstown rival Spalding — which gave Griffin fits when they last met.
Paster said, there are no nights off in this region.
Nonetheless, he has his team off to a rousing start that many in the Griffin nation would love to see continue when the Bears play their home opener 7:30 p.m., Tuesday at The House against Woodland-Stockbridge.
It has been 10 years since Griffin’s last state title — the exact same amount of time Griffin went between state titles last time. With the drop off between 2008-2012, it’s unreasonable to Griffin is in line for a shot at another state title. But it would be nice for the fans to have something to cheer about again as the pendulum continues to swing back in Griffin’s favor.
(John Sullivan is the sports editor at the Griffin Daily News.)
Griffin Hoops History since 2003 State Title
Season |Record (Rds at St) |Coach
2002-03 |25-3 (5) |Qualls
2003-04 |24-5 (2) |Qualls
2004-05 |22-8 (4) |Qualls
2005-06 |19-10 (3) |Qualls
2006-07 |17-11 (3) |Qualls
2007-08 |9-14 (0) |Sinkfield
2008-09 |10-14 (0) |Daniel
2009-10 |5-21 (0) |Daniel
2010-11 |10-10 (0) |Rogers
2011-12 |10-18 (1) |Paster
2012-13 |TBD |Paster