Both teams open play at The House against non-region foe Lamar County today, with the Lady Bears tipoff scheduled for 6 p.m. and the Bears at 7:30 p.m. This will be the home debuts for first-year Griffin head coaches Veronica Lee of the Lady Bears and Prelvis Paster of the Bears. Both Lamar teams will be playing their first regular-season games of the year.
The House, Griffin’s gym, was newly-renovated and both teams hope they will be able to play brand new after taking it on the chin down in Valdosta at the Charles Cooper Tipoff Classic Tournament last week. The Lady Bears went 1-2 in the tourney while the Bears didn’t win a game, going 0-3 down south.
“I believe starting the season with that tournament was a good test for us,” said Lee. “I believed we played better as the days went on. Going to that tourney helped the girls out a lot.”
Lee said the Lady Bears were aggressive, showed intensity and forced a lot of turnovers at the Cooper Classic. She said her team does need to execute better and play better on the ball defense, starting this evening against the Lady Trojans of Lamar County.
“Lamar County is an athletic team and they play hard,” Lee said. “We’ve got to make our easy baskets and run our sets effectively in order to win.”
Paster and the Bears will run into a familiar foe tonight — former Spalding High head coach Cecil Spear, who now runs the ship at Lamar County. The last time a Spear-coached team faced Griffin High, he was the winning coach and he’d like to do that again, if possible.
“You always want your guys to play a good program like Griffin High because that adds legitimacy to your program,” Spear said. “We had nine basketball players on our football team this season so I’m just getting some of them back for the Griffin game. We’re looking forward to getting the season started.”
Spear said he knows Paster from his days at Mary Persons High and Howard High, so he knows Griffin will come to play.
“It will be tough on us since they are starting 0-3 and they’ll be pressing for a win,” Spear said. “We’ve got to come out strong and be ready for their onslaught.”
The Spalding High Jaguars and Lady Jaguars will face the onslaught of three straight Region 4-AAA contests, starting today with road contests at Stockbridge High, with game time slated for 6 p.m. The Lady Jags (0-4) were swept by the Lady Tigers of Stockbridge last season and they will try to not let that happen this season. Spalding is coming off a 42-35 loss to Union Grove in the Morrow Arrowhead Classic Thanksgiving Tournament this past Saturday. The Jags (0-3) split with Stockbridge last season, defeating the Tigers at their place in the third of their school-record five overtime wins last season.
Like Griffin, Griffin Christian will also be at home today, hosting The Weber School in boys and girls action starting at 6 p.m. The Crusaders (1-2) got their only win over Weber back on Nov. 15 at their place (70-53) while the Lady Crusaders lost 30-23. Lady Crusaders head coach David Hammond thinks his girls, 1-2 so far, can post their first two-game winning streak in a long time.
“We hung with Weber even after getting shutout in the first quarter,” he said. “If we score the ball on them and play good defense, we can get beat them and have a two-game win streak. That would be nice for the girls.”