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North Springs aims for state berth
by Greg Oshust
February 12, 2013 03:12 PM | 2230 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Nathan Self<br>North Springs' Rpbert Sakulanda takes a shot during practice.
Staff / Nathan Self
North Springs' Rpbert Sakulanda takes a shot during practice.
North Springs needs to win only one game to earn a spot in the Class AAAAA state boys’ basketball tournament.

The Spartans will attempt to do just that as they play host Sprayberry in their opening game of the Region 7AAAAA tournament Wednesday.

With a win, North Springs — which is the second seed from Subregion B and had a first-round bye — will earn a spot in the semifinals against either Pope or Kell on Friday and give the Spartans their first state tournament berth since 2002.

First-year North Springs coach Carlos Cliett said his team has to be at its best as it enters the 7AAAAA tournament.

“The most important thing is how we’ll we execute on offense and defense,” Cliett said. “If we execute, we win. If we don’t, we’ll lose. When we execute, we can beat anybody in our region.”

While North Springs (13-9) is coming off of a 76-52 loss to Rockdale County in its regular-season finale last Wednesday, the Spartans had won eight of their previous nine games.

It was a tough start to the season for North Springs, which lost six of its first eight games — which included a 94-22 defeat to Class A cross-town rival Mount Vernon Presbyterian and an 83-35 loss at the hands of AAAAAA team South Gwinnett in its first two contests.

However, the Spartans bounced back with 10 wins in their last 14 games — including a five-game winning streak in January.

For Cliett, his team’s acclimation to the new system he installed at the beginning of the season has made the biggest difference in its improvement over the last month of the season.

“We’ve got kids who can play, but they had to learn to play within my system,” Cliett said. “We have four guys who are new to the school and the rest of the guys who are returning, but had to learn a completely new system, so it was like a completely new team. We struggled early on, but the guys have gotten adjusted more and more to the system and have been playing better together as a team.”

Walter Cole, a 6-foot-4 junior guard who was recently named to the All-Region 7AAAAA first team, leads North Springs in scoring with about 21 points a game, while 6-7 junior forward Brandon Miller is averaging about 13 points and 12 rebounds per contest.

Riverwood is also aiming for a state berth — its second in three years — in the 7AAAAA tournament.

The Raiders (16-9) — seeded second in Subregion A — will take on Creekview Wednesday, with the winner to move on to a semifinal contest with either Sequoyah or Osborne Friday.

The 7AAAAA championship will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with the third-place contest scheduled earlier in the day at 4:30 p.m.

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