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Big-time matchups

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Greyhounds to host pair of top-ranked defending champs on Friday and Saturday

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    Strong play in the paint staked the Greyhounds to an early advantage against Union Grove. BRAD HARRISON/Staff
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    Geo Wade drives to the basket for an easy score against Union Grove. BRAD HARRISON/Staff
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    Matt Wold lays the ball in for a basket during last Tuesday’s victory against Union Grove. BRAD HARRISON/Staff
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    Jeremy Middlebrooks (21) gets position to score in the paint against Ola. BRAD HARRISON/Staff
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    Aderius Strickland was among the Greyhounds coming off the bench to contribute in Friday’s win against Ola. BRAD HARRISON/Staff

The Greyhounds began the season with a cluster of matchups designed to test their ability and well-position them to compete within the region and the postseason.

But to say that the next week will be a greater challenge is a vast understatement. This week, the Greyhounds will host not one but two top-ranked teams that are also defending state champions. The first will be an earlyseason region showdown on Friday when top-ranked Eagles Landing, last year’s AAAAA champion, comes to town. They’ll bring that reputation up against the Greyhounds, who so far this year are unbeaten on their home floor. The boy’s game will follow the girl’s game, which starts at 7 p.m.

Regardless of Friday’s result, there’ll be no time to rest. That’s because on Saturday, Baldwin, the defending boy’s AAAA state champion, also top-ranked, will make the short drive for a game set to start after the girls game at 5 p.m.

“It’s a big region game. Eagles Landing is Eagles

Chaydon Stone and the Greyhounds took control early in each of last week’s contests, going 3-0. BRAD HARRISON/Staff Landing. You’ve got to be ready to play or they’ll run you out of here. It’s a big game for us. We want to pack this thing because it’s a big weekend for us,” Greyhounds head coach Buck Harris said. “We play Eagles Landing, the No. 1 team in the state, on Friday and turn around and play Baldwin on Saturday. We’ve got our hands full, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Jones County, which does get a bit of time of rest having not played since last Friday, cruises into this week 6-2 overall and, most importantly, 2-0 in the region.

“They’ll be excited to be playing both of those teams. They’ve been talking about it for a while,” Harris said. “I don’t know who made the schedule, but it’ll help us down the road.”

The Greyhounds opened region play last Tuesday with a 69-52 win against Union Grove, a game in which JCHS seized control early to lead 22-8. Jones County was hardly a one-person show against the Wolverines. Four Greyhounds, led by Jaylen Sanford’s 22 points, scored in double figures. That effort was also paced by Chaydon Stone’s 13 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. That was complemented by Daethan Harris scoring 11 points and Matt Wold having 12.

After disposing of Warner Robins 71-49 on Thursday to get a season sweep of the Demons, Jones County faced an Ola team on Friday that it outweighed on paper. The Greyhounds didn’t take the Mustangs lightly, using all of their advantages to the full in hitting open shots and getting score after score off turnovers to lead 46-15 at halftime.

“I thought the kids responded well after playing back-to-back. I thought they showed some maturity and growth,” Harris said. “I’ve been in the business a long time. I can sense when kids are not focused. I pulled them together before the start of game and said, ‘we need to reshift our focus because, when you take teams for granted, that’s when you get in trouble.”

That allowed Greyhounds head coach Buck Harris to rest his starters, giving way to reserves up and down the bench who, as the second half went on, gleefully cheered on seldom-used players who got their moment in the spotlight.

“They were happy to see their teammates that don’t always get to play have success. It’s a part of growth for a lot of them,” Harris said. “That’s one thing we try to do here, is learn from someone else and show empathy toward others.”

By the time it all ended, Sanford needed a half or so of basketball to score 21 points with Stone having 14 and Geo Wade having ten.