Clyde Zachery felt like his team would go through some growing pains early this year.
The Crawford County boys basketball head coach is starting two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior.
Those growing pains havent showed up as often as one might believe with such a young team.
The Eagles (13-4, 6-1 in Region 4-AA) are tied for the region lead, although they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with Taylor County. They play at Bleckley County on Friday and host Putnam County on Saturday in a pair of pivotal region contests.
Weve come a long way, but there is a lot of room for improvement, said Zachery, who would love to get the Eagles past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The Eagles have struggled with unforced errors, Zachery said, and some of the fundamental aspects of the game. They shot about 35 percent from the foul line in the six-point loss at Taylor County.
But Zachery has been mostly pleased with the play of some of his young players, including sophomore William Jarrell and freshman John Corbin. The 6-foot-4 Jarrell is averaging right at 21 points, while Corbin is averaging about 19 per game.
Were coming along, but with these young players you have to take it day by day, Zachery said. We want to jell at the right time and play our best ball at the end of the season.
Rematch at Robins
The Warner Robins boys have been one of the biggest surprises this season in Middle Georgia.
The Demons, who have been to the playoffs only once since 2007, are 17-2 and undefeated in GHSA Region 2B-AAAAA.
But their biggest game of the season thus far will come Saturday afternoon with Northside makes the short trip across Watson Boulevard for what will likely be the sub-region championship.
The teams have met twice already this season.
Northside won the first matchup 59-48 in the championship game of the Bear Brawl. The Eagles held the Demons to their lowest point total of the season in the victory.
Warner Robins responded with a 65-58 win at Northside on Jan. 11, one of nine consecutive victories.
Northside (14-5, 3-1) has won four straight games since the home loss to Warner Robins, scoring 72 or more in each of the victories. The Eagles won at Turner County, the other school to beat Warner Robins, and beat Jones County 85-84 on Tuesday.
First place at stake
Heading Fridays girls basketball schedule will be Rutlands trip to Mary Persons, a game that will determine first place in GHSA Region 2-AAAA.
Both teams are 8-1 in region play and 15-2 overall. Howard is in third place at 5-2 in the region, according standings published Thursday on the GHSA website.
Mary Persons won the first meeting 60-55 on Dec. 10 at Rutland.
Rutland has won seven straight since losing by six points to Statesboro in the Middle Georgia Classic, while Mary Persons lost 38-34 at Veterans two weeks ago for its only region loss. The Bulldogs other loss also came in a holiday tournament, an eight-point loss to Woodland.
Eboni Watts and TyAsia Grayer are both averaging more than 10 points per game for Rutland.
Compiled by Jonathan Heeter and Ron Seibel.