MAHONE: Clayton State’s ‘grit’ is defining characteristic

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

MORROW — On Sunday morning, the Clayton State women’s basketball team will board a plane heading to San Antonio, Texas.

Likely they have packed for a week-long stay in the Lone Star State.

The Lakers are looking to add more hardware to a crowded trophy case at the Athletics and Fitness Center on its campus. Clayton State is two wins away from playing for its second national title in three seasons.

Over that period, Clayton State has been one of the most dominant programs in the country, regardless of what level.

The Clayton State women’s basketball program is 96-5 (.950) over the last three years, the top winning percentage of any program at the NCAA Division II level. Clayton State is the only undefeated women’s team this year in Div. I or Div. II.

We are not suggesting that the Lakers could play with the likes of UConn, Tennessee and Baylor, but their record is impressive no matter what level of competition you face.

There might not be another player that is exciting to watch than Drameka Griggs, a hometown superstar. The diminutive point guard arrived at the Morrow campus by way of Jonesboro High and a short stop at Jacksonville. She is an All-American, and possibly the Div. II player of the year.

They have a great inside game in Shay Jackson, Kayla Mobley and Shannon Smith.

Jackson is one of the top defenders in Div. II. She has the capability and athleticism to guard any position on the court.

Yes, Clayton State is a talented team, but they have that one intangible that probably separates them from the rest of the field.

The Lakers have that intangible of grit.

“At this point in the season, everyone is banged up,” Clayton State coach Dennis Cox said. “Our players have been putting forth a great effort.”

And that effort has carried them to San Antonio.

That grit might help the Lakers cut down the nets after capturing a national title.

Talent will carry the Lakers far, but that grit could be the difference.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily/Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.