Published Friday, January 18, 2013
By DOUG GORMAN
Newnan junior Immanuel Griggs certainly stands out in the crowd. With his 6-foot-8 frame, Griggs also has a way of taking over a basketball game on both ends of the court.
His ability to block shots on defense, and turn it up several notches on offense is one of the reasons the Cougars have played their way into contention in the Region 3-AAAAAA standings.
But if things play out Newnan’s way, Griggs’ play will be at eye-level with the rest of his team.
Tonight at Westlake, Griggs and his teammates face perhaps their biggest test of the season with the winner taking over position of first place in the region standings. The Cougars, Westlake and Douglas County are all tied for first place with 2-1 records league records.
Currently Newnan (11-6) holds a tiebreaker over Douglas County following Tuesday’s impressive 78-68 victory at home on Tuesday night. The Tigers, however, defeated Westlake (13-4, 2-1) earlier this season for the Lions’ only loss in 3-AAAAAA.
Griggs helped take over Tuesday’s game against Douglas County with an impressive third-quarter performance that included 10 of his 16 points. Two of his baskets in the third period came on thundering dunks.
The Cougars’ center knows why his team has a shot at contending for the region title.
“It comes down to coaching,” Griggs said. “Everybody is buying into what Coach (Rod) Ladd is trying to teach us.”
Part of Ladd’s coaching philosophy is known as “next man up,” a term focused more on team play than individual accolades. So far it is working.
In the Cougars’ win against Douglas County, four players finished in double figures led by 19 from senior guard Darrell Morrow, who hit three 3-point shots in the first quarter. Doniel Dean added 18 points and Kaceon Person tossed in 10.
“It just been about playing as team," Griggs said. “We feel like anybody can step it up on a given day.”
Ladd admits its hard to get a read on just how things are going to play out in the region.
“Everybody knows about Westlake when it comes to high school basketball, not just in Georgia,” Ladd said.”They are always tough, but I think they can be beat.”
Douglas County proved that when they beat the Lions earlier this year 96-91. Since then, the Lions have won three games in row including Tuesday’s 89-48 victory at home over East Coweta. The other wins have come against region rival Langston Hughes (73-62) and Alcovy 87-68.
Tonight’s game at Westlake is the first of back-to-back Region 3-AAAAAA games for Newnan, which travels to Langston Hughes on Tuesday.
Westlake and Langston Hughes joined Newnan and East Coweta in making the jump from Region 2-AAAAA to Region 3-AAAAAA last year when the Georgia High School Association expanded to six classifications.
A year ago, Westlake waltzed through Region 2-AAAAA with a 14-0 record, beating Newnan twice.
Newnan lost to Langston Hughes twice in the regular season, but won a thrilling 42-41 victory over the Panthers in the Region 2-AAAAA tournament to secure a berth in the state tournament.
The Lady Cougars basketball team has struggled this season with a 1-13 record overall and a 1-2 mark in the region.
Newnan’s struggles include Tuesday’s 78-63 loss to Douglas County.
The Lady Cougars face a Lady Lions lineup that has posted a 10-6 overall record and a 1-2 mark in region play. A 60-34 win over East Coweta’s girls on Tuesday snapped a three-game losing streak.
East Coweta is off tonight before resuming Region 3-AAAAA play on Tuesday against Douglas County at John Thrower Gym.
Northgate vs Our Lady of Mercy: The Vikings step out of Region 4B-AAAAA action tonight when they host Our Lady of Mercy.
In is last outing, the Vikings (4-10) lost a heartbreaking 41-40 game to Starr’s Mill, while the Lady Vikings dropped to 4-11.