Ranked No. 1 In Georgia, the Jonesboro Cardinals Get Set To Open the 2016/17 Season
It's Thanksgiving break for students at Jonesboro High School, located just a few miles south of Atlanta, GA, but on Tuesday morning, there's still some activity taking place in the school's gym, "The Box", home to the Jonesboro Cardinals. As the boys basketball team prepares to open it's regular season Friday against Wheeler High School, the Cardinals are taking advantage of the break by getting in some morning practices before the Thanksgiving Holiday. The Cardinals are accustom to success on the court, not losing more than six games in a season since 2009 and making deep runs in the playoffs the last six years including two Georgia High School Association 4A State Championships in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, the Cardinals would once again find themselves in the State Title game however this time, they would walk away without the Championship as Liberty County kept the Cardinals from earning a three peat, defeating Jonesboro 58-52.
"Man, I don't even like to think about it," says Sr. guard MJ Walker, "It's definitely motivation for this season." Walker, No. 21 on ESPN's 100 for high school basketball recruits, says that losing to Liberty County was "a feeling we weren't used to. We had won the two previous time we were there so it just wasn't a good feeling."
The Cardinals Head Coach, Daniel Maehlman says that after suffering last year's loss in the title game, he and his staff have not had to say much to motivate the players coming into this season, "they really motivated themselves. Losing in the state championship, we weren't used to that because the first two times we got there we won." Maehlman continues, "We do throw things in time to time to remind them that they're no longer the state champions so you're going to have to go out and prove yourselves." Maehlman also notes that, despite the Cardinals not being the defending state champions and moving up two classifications to GHSA 6A, they still have the "bullseye" on their back as they come into the season ranked No. in the state. "The guys have been great and have worked hard and we'll see where we're at when we open up against Wheeler, (ranked No. 2 in the state)."