Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013
By DOUG GORMAN
If the Newnan Cougars (17-10) hope to advance to the second round of the Class AAAAAA basketball tournament tonight against Morrow (20-10), they might want to rediscover their shooting touch.
Last Saturday, it disappeared at the worst possible time and it cost them a chance win the Region 3-AAAAAA title.
The end result was a shocking 44-30 loss to Tri-Cities, who stunned the region by winning the title despite entering the tournament as the No. 5 seed.
Only five players scored in the game for the Cougars with Doniel Dean and Immanuel Griggs each finishing with 12 points in the loss for Newnan.
Cougar head coach Rod Ladd is just glad his team is still alive in the state tournament.
"We took another step," he said after Saturday's loss. "We'll get right back to work and fix it."
Until Saturday's loss against Tri-Cities, the Cougars had played some of their best basketball this season over the last two weeks, winning four games in a row.
Back-to-back wins over East Coweta, including a 57-43 victory over the Indians to start the tournament, helped highlight the team's late-season push.
Newnan set up its game with Tri-Cities thanks to a 65-58 victory over Douglas County in the semifinals.
Throughout the season, Newnan has spread the wealth relying on different players each night.
Dean and Griggs often lead the way offensively for the Cougars, but others have shown their ability to step up and score at times for Newnan.
Guards Kaceon Person and Darrell Morrow had trouble putting the ball through the basket on Saturday, but have spent the season showing their ability to knock down 3-point shots.
Newnan often throws a big line up at up at its opponents with Griggs measuring in at 6-8. Freshman Jannson Williams, who is 6-6, has also picked up his share of playing time during his first year of varsity experience.
During the last month of the season, Williams was inserted into the starting lineup along with Griggs to give the team plenty of size.
Newnan head coach Rod Ladd usually has the two players on the floor together.
In Wednesday's game, the Cougars face a Mustang squad which rolled past Luella 73-52 to secure third place in the Region 2-AAAAAA tournament.
Despite winning 20 games this season, the Mustangs finished just 6-6 in league play. It's the first time since the 2007-08 season, Morrow has earned a bid to the state tournament.
The Mustangs played their best basketball midway through the season, winning 9 of 10 games.
Newnan is heading back to to the state tournament for the second year in a row. Last season, Newnan dropped a first-round game to Valdosta to end its season at 14-15.
Tip off for the first round game is set for 6 p.m.
Northgate boys basketball team set to make history: When the Northgate Vikings step on the floor Wednesday evening against Northside-Columbus, it will be a new venture for the boys basketball team.
Northgate has never played in a state tournament game.
That all changes tonight when the Vikings travel to take on the Patriots at 6 p.m.
The first-round game also extends the coaching career of Mack Cain who is stepping down at the end of the season.
The Vikings wrote an interesting chapter to their season over the last week, making it to the Class AAAAA round of 16 for the first time ever with wins over Mundy's Mill and McIntosh in the Region 4-AAAAA Tournament. Northgate's hopes of winning the region ended Thursday after it lost to Whitewater in the semfinals.
Cain is excited about leading the school to its first trip to the state tournament. The veteran coach has been to the state tournament before, highlighted by his trip to the Class AAAA state finals when he was at Jonesboro.
"I have been there before," he said. "I am glad this group is going to get to experience the state tournament too."
Northgate is headed to the Class AAAAA tournament despite winning just nine games this season.
The Vikings have been paced this season by Luke Motzel and Tray Stargell. Motzel has shown the ability to step up and hit 3-point shots throughout the season. Stargell has averaged in double figures in rebounding this year and shown his ability to score from inside the paint.
Cain knows anything can happen once a team gets to the tournament.
"We were the No. 4 seed team at Jonesboro the year we played for the state title," he said after the team lost in the semifinals of the region tournament.