The Lithonia boys can’t win the Region 5 championship. Miller Grove already has that locked up. But the Bulldogs would like nothing more than to knock off their next-door neighbors Tuesday in their final home game of the season.
Lithonia (16-5, 5-3) still wants to finish as high as it can in the region standings and a win over the Wolverines would help it toward a second-place finish. But the Bulldogs see these last three games (they close the season this weekend at Clarkston and Southwest DeKalb) as a warm up for next week’s region tournament at SWD.
Miller Grove used a strong second half and took advantage of Lithonia mistakes to win the first meeting 47-34. Lithonia coach Wallace Corker said, “Hopefully we learned from that. It should be a real competitive game.”
Competitive games are the norm in Region 5. So is defense. These games are typically hard-nosed defensive battles and games often come down to the last one or two possessions.
“One of things I’ve learned is that you’ve got to be able to defend and play hard,” Corker said. “You have to come with the idea of protecting your basket.”
Lithonia has done that well. The Bulldogs lead the region in defense (50.8 points allowed), but there’s no slackness among the others with Southwest DeKalb (53.8), Miller Grove (53.9), Chamblee (56.0), Clarkston (57.0), Columbia (60.6) and Arabia Mountain (63.5) all ranking from good to very good.
“It’s just a great defensive league,” Corker said. “You’ve got to come prepared every night because every team plays extremely hard every night.”
Lithonia’s offense is led by senor Ziven Alexander, a 6-foot-4 forward who averages 12.9 points and 5.5 rebounds. The Bulldogs’ top rebounders are junior Justin Myles (6.4), senior D’Allen Pritchett (5.7) and senior Sydarius Stinson (5.5). Sophomore Eric Gaines ranks among the top five in DeKalb County in assists (4.1) and steals (2.7).
Miller Grove’s offense is led by junior Maurice Harvey (14.6 points, 2.9 assists) and senior Lorenzo Anderson (12.5). Senior Kevin Paige (8.2 rebounds) is the top inside defender and rim protector.
Region 6 goes down to the wire: Riverwood (16-7) stopped the Maynard Jackson express on Saturday, beating the Jaguars and creating a tie atop the standings. Jackson (20-2) finishes at Decatur and against Banneker. Riverwood has games remaining at Lithia Springs and against Decatur.
Eagle’s Landing tries to nail down Region 4: The Eagle’s Landing boys (17-5-1) could clinch the regular-season championship with a win at Woodland (16-5) on Tuesday. The Golden Eagles have won six straight. Eagle’s Landing defeated Woodland 55-50 in their first encounter in December. A Woodland win creates a three-way tie for first, with Stockbridge (18-5) joining the mix.
Starr’s Mill, McIntosh tied in Region 3: There will be some scoreboard watching this weekend between Starr’s Mill and McIntosh, who are tied for first but don’t play each other at the end of the season. The two teams split their regular-season meetings. Starr’s Mill (15-7) has won seven straight and finishes at Riverdale on Tuesday and at home on Friday against Griffin. McIntosh (15-7) has road games remaining against Griffin and Morrow.