Griffin girls deflect pressure of being No. 1 … Top games this weekend

Article and photos courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution –> Original Article Here

basketball-941996_1280Griffin girls basketball coach Veronica Lee admits it’s somewhat stressful to be undefeated – at least for her.

“For me, I’m burning up on the inside,” Lee said. “The girls are laid back. They’re coming to practice, going through their routines, nothing has changed. As long as they stay focused and take it one game at a time I think we’ll be OK.”

The No. 1-ranked Bears (20-0) are the last undefeated girls team in Class AAAAA. They are 9-0 in Region 3 and enjoy a two-game lead of Fayette County with only three league games remaining.

The success is no surprise. Griffin won its first 10 games last year en route to a 23-7 season. The Bears got the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Carrollton.

“We had all our players back, so I thought we were going to have a pretty good year,” Lee said.

The Bears are led by 6-foot-2 senior center Andeija Puckett, who has signed with Cincinnati. Puckett averages 17.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocks. He has had 11 double-double games, with a season high 25 points twice.

On the rare occasion that Puckett has an off night, the Bears have depended on seniors TyLeslie Johnson (8.4 points, 5.5 rebounds) and Trakeirra Head (6.4 points) to carry the load. Reserve Daisya Reid averages 9.7 points off the bench.

Sophomore point guard Zaconia Berry (7.8 points, 3.0 assists, 3.2 steals) has done a nice job running the offense. She replaced Nia Flowers, who tore her ACL and is slowly working her way back into shape; Lee hopes Flowers will be 100 percent by the playoffs.

“Everybody is playing well and doing their part,” Lee said.

Griffin does not play on Friday. The Bears have a non-conference game against Columbia on Saturday, before they close the season next week with region games against McIntosh, Starr’s Mill and Riverdale.

There are some interesting games involving ranked teams this weekend:

Friday — Columbia at Miller Grove boys: No. 3 Miller Grove (14-7, 9-0) could essentially clinch the Region 5-AAAAA title with a win over No. 7 Columbia (14-5, 7-2). The two teams play again on Feb. 3 and a Columbia win on Friday could set up a winner-take-all game for the regular-season region title.

The game showcase Miller Grove senior Naquante Hardy (19.8 points), the No. 2 scorer in DeKalb County and Columbia senior Kenton Eskridge (13.3 points).

Saturday – Decatur at Maynard Jackson girls: No. 6 Jackson (17-1, 10-0) can ice the Region 6 title with a win. A win would keep the Bulldogs (13-7, 8-2) in the hunt and add extra meaning to Tuesday’s rematch with Jackson at Decatur.

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