0

PREP HOOPS NOTEBOOK: Calhoun County, Randolph-Clay boys tangle in key Region 1-A battle

At left, Randolph-Clay’s Qualian Jones (11) and Marquin Jones (5) will look to help the Red Devils hand Herald No. 4 Calhoun County its first loss tonight. At right, Calhoun County’s Sherrod Williams (22) and Devorriss Haynes (12) have their work cut out for them against Randolph-Clay tonight. (Staff Photos: Tim Morse)

At left, Randolph-Clay’s Qualian Jones (11) and Marquin Jones (5) will look to help the Red Devils hand Herald No. 4 Calhoun County its first loss tonight. At right, Calhoun County’s Sherrod Williams (22) and Devorriss Haynes (12) have their work cut out for them against Randolph-Clay tonight. (Staff Photos: Tim Morse)

CUTHBERT — Tonight’s Region 1-A sub-region game between Calhoun County and Randolph-Clay brings more than the usual bragging rights between the two neighboring counties.

It might just be the most anticipated game in Southwest Georgia this weekend.

Herald No. 4 Calhoun County, the last unbeaten team in the area, is 14-0 and 5-0 in Region 1-A (A) play. Randolph-Clay is 11-3 and 2-1 in sub-region play. The Red Devils’ only region loss was to Herald No. 1 Seminole County last month.

The game tips off at 7:30 p.m in Cuthbert.

Calhoun boys coach Marcus Shaw doesn’t want his team to get too caught up in the pre-game hype for a game that has been anticipated for weeks.

“We have to treat it as another game,” he said. “Randolph-Clay traditionally has a good team, and they are always going to come out and play well.”

It will be the first of two meetings in the regular-season between the two Southwest Georgia powerhouses. And if they keep playing strong, they could meet in the postseason tournament. In this week’s Class A public school power rankings, Calhoun County is fourth, while Randolph-Clay is seventh. The top 16 teams make the postseason tournament.

“It’s a rivalry game regardless of the records,” Randolph-Clay coach Michael Hoffpauir said. “But it adds a little flavor that we are both contending. Both of us have had decent seasons. They’re undefeated, and we’ve been playing well. It’ll be a big game regardless.”

Shaw said he’s impressed with the Red Devils, whose other two losses were to Class AAAA powers Westover and Monroe.

Calhoun has also been impressive. In the Cougars’ 14 wins, they have had only three games where they beat their opponent by three points or less. With just nine games left, Shaw knows staying undefeated will be a challenge.

“It’s been a special season so far,” he said. “We’d like to keep the run going, but it’s going to be tough.”

MONROE GIRLS IN CONTROL: With the Region 1-AAAA schedule in high gear and just three weeks left in the regular season, the Monroe Lady Tornadoes control their own destiny. They currently sit atop the region standings and have a two-game lead over second-place Crisp County.

If Herald No. 2 Monroe can win its next three region games against Americus-Sumter, Dougherty and Crisp County, it could clinch the regular-season title outright and host the region tournament since the top girls team earns the right to host this year. The Region 1-AAAA tournament begins Feb. 10.

Lady Tornadoes coach Cheryl Cheeks doesn’t want her team looking ahead.

“There’s still a long way to go,” she said. “We’ve got to keep working to get better.”

LEE COUNTY BOYS PLAYING WELL: Lee County has opened Region 1-AAAAA play with a pair of wins over Hardaway and Thomas County Central. The Trojans hope to continue their winning ways tonight when they travel to play Bainbridge in a key region contest.

They will need similar performances from Jalin Wimberly, Super 6er Aaron May and JJ Rivers, who all finished in double figures of the Trojans’ win over Thomas County Central on Tuesday.