Two weeks ago, 32 teams in Class AAAA started the postseason hoping to be the last one standing during the first week in March.
And now, just two will remain until roughly 11 p.m. Thursday night. That should be when we know — barring a multiple overtime finish — who will walk out of the Macon Coliseum with boys state basketball supremacy.
The matchup promises to be a good one. Everybody is good once you get to this point of the season. We know about Jonesboro, but let’s take a closer look at the top-ranked Cardinals’ last hurdle to a back-to-back title, and how the two teams line up side-by-side.
TALE OF THE TAPE
RECORDS & RANKINGS:
-Jonesboro is 31-1, 15-0 in Region 4-AAAA and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA (SCORE Atlanta), No. 4 in Georgia and No. 8 in the nation by MaxPreps.
-Carrollton is 29-2, No. 5 in Class AAAA (SCORE Atlanta) and No. 14 in Georgia by MaxPreps.
REGION TOURNAMENT SUCCESS:
-Jonesboro defeated Mount Zion 55-36 for the Region 4-AAAA Championship.
-Carrollton defeated Woodward Academy 82-34 for the Region 5-AAAA Championship.
JONESBORO’S ROAD TO MACON:
-First Round: Defeated Thomson 80-52.
-Second Round: Defeated St. Pius X 67-57.
-Third Round: Defeated Johnson 50-35.
-Fourth Round: Defeated Liberty County 71-43.
CARROLLTON’S ROAD TO MACON:
-First Round: Defeated Columbia 54-43.
-Second Round: Defeated Burke County 84-61.
-Third Round: Upson-Lee 77-60.
-Fourth Round: Defeated Cairo 48-45.
JONESBORO PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Everybody knows about James Walker. Carrollton coach Tim Criswell called Walker “an amazing talent.” But the battle, perhaps, to watch will be how players like 6-foot-6 forward Tracy Hector manages the game down low against the Trojans’ size. Hector is 12.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, and has upped his level of play in the last two games especially. Nursing an ankle injury, if he can handle the paint, he’ll be able to help Jonesboro assuage Carrollton’s size advantage.
CARROLLTON PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Criswell acknowledged that his team may have a bit of a size advantage in the post on the top-ranked Cardinals, and that starts with Georgia Southern signee Montae Glenn. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound center puts you more in the mind of the quintessential “back-to-the-basket post player,” according to Criswell. His partner in the paint is 6-foot-5 forward Jarel Rowe. Rowe gets about 12 points and nine boards per contest, and will test the Cardinals’ ability to defend and rebound against them Thursday night.
JONESBORO BY THE NUMBERS:
-Offense: Averaging 74.7 points per game.
-Defense: Gives up 42.9 points per game.
CARROLLTON BY THE NUMBERS:
-Offense: Averaging 62.9 points per game.
-Defense: Gives up 49.6 points per game.
Carrollton has a definite size advantage down low, but Criswell said Jonesboro’s quickness and size on the perimeter may neutralize that edge. It should be a good, close contest — one where Jonesboro will need to get out in transition and make Carrollton’s bigs run in order to be successful. If the Trojans can slow the game down a bit, a la what St. Pius X did for about a half in their quarterfinals game with Jonesboro, it could make for an interesting game. Nobody’s been able to do it to Jonesboro for four quarters yet. PREDICTION: Jonesboro 69, Carrollton 61.
VIDEO: Few people are able to handle the Cardinals in transition. That’s because of the way they practice it: