MOULTRIE – On Feb. 6, 1979, the Colquitt County High girls basketball team defeated Tift County 82-57 to raise their record 13-7 with just one game remaining before the Region 1-AAAA South tournament.
The story that appeared in The Moultrie Observer the next day noted that senior Sarah Edwards had led the Packerettes – as they were known then – with 14 points.
What was not mentioned in the story – nor in subsequent stories about the team - was that one of those points was the 1,000th of Edwards’s impressive career.
And while six other Colquitt County High girls - including teammate Brelinda Copeland - have gone on to score more than 1,000 career points - Edwards was the first.
Edwards actually scored 712 of those points as a Moultrie High Packerette, before the Doerun, Norman Park and Moultrie high schools consolidated to form Colquitt County High.
She moved into the starting lineup about midway through her freshman season on the Travis Allegood-coached 1975-1976 team and started at center the next three seasons.
Many in Colquitt County might also remember that following her outstanding high school career she was the first player recruited and signed by new University of Georgia women’s coach Andy Landers, who went on to a long and outstanding career coaching the Lady Bulldogs.
Although now an executive with Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Edwards still keeps up with Colquitt County sports and supports Lady Packers basketball.
On a trip to the high school gymnasium, she noticed the banner honoring the program’s 1,000-point scorers. She was not on the list, but a search of The Moultrie Observer’s summaries of the games she had played in proved that she deserved to be.
Her name, next to the 1,030 points she scored, will soon be included among the best female players the county has produced.
But even if she had fallen short, it would not have diminished her place in girls basketball history in Colquitt County, Julian Grantham says.
Grantham, who took over as the program’s head coach in the first year of consolidation and coached the Edwards-led Packerettes to a 14-9 record in 1978-1979, remembers her well.
“She was a good scorer and a good rebounder and she could shoot a little from the perimeter,” Grantham said recently. “She was very coachable, had a good work ethic and was well-liked by the other players.”
Edwards began playing basketball as a fifth-grader at Sunset Elementary and further developed as an eighth-grader under the direction of Robert Aultman.
“I spent a lot of time with him,” Edwards said of Aultman.
It didn’t take long for her to work her way into the starting lineup as a ninth-grader and she went on to average 8.6 points a game.
She became a fixture in the post the next year, averaging 12.9 points a game and had a career-high 29 points in a region tournament victory over Valdosta. She also put in 24 against Monroe.
She averaged 11.4 as a junior in the final season before consolidation.
When the schools consolidated, Grantham took over the Colquitt County program. He had won one state championship and six region titles as the head coach at Norman Park.
Grantham brought a solid Rosa Brown with him from Norman Park to join a team that included Edwards, Copeland, Kelly Tillman, Kim Weeks, Jo Beth Weaver, Precious Bright, Dot Seay and Nancy Anderson.
Mattie Taylor was the assistant coach.
Taylor, Grantham, Weaver and Anderson are all members of the Colquitt County Sports Hall of Fame.
The first season after consolidation was a trying one. With the gymnasium at the new high school not ready, first Colquitt County High boys and girls basketball teams had to play at the old Moultrie High and often had to juggle practice locations.
But Edwards and the team thrived.
Colquitt went 14-9 and played in a region that included Lowndes, then one of the nation’s top girls basketball programs, led by coach Charles Cooper.
“We just ran up against a buzz saw against Lowndes,” Edwards remembers. “And it was a real tough region we played in. It was good competition.
“And I remember playing the old gym. The stands went right down to the floor. It was a real home court advantage.”
Edwards scored 318 points, averaging 14.5 points a game. She started strong, scoring 21 points against both Tift County and Thomasville to open the season.
She later scored 23 in the rematch with Thomasville; 26 against Valdosta; 22 against Dougherty; and 20 against Crisp County.
The 6-footer also averaged 14 rebounds a game as a senior.
Grantham said Edwards thrived under the direction she received in the classroom, in the gymnasium and at home.
“She had a very supportive family,” Grantham said of Sarah’s parents, Warren and Sandra Edwards. “Her father spent a lot of time at the gym watching practice and games.”
Edwards also was one of Colquitt County High’s top student-athletes and had a 3.86 grade point average when Andy Landers called and asked her to try out for his first University of Georgia basketball team.
After Landers watched her perform, he offered her his first scholarship.
The Georgia women’s program had gone 37-85 in its first six years of existence before Landers arrived from Roane State Community College in eastern Tennessee.
The Lady Bulldogs went 16-12 in 1979-1980, Landers’s first year in Athens, and went to the GAIAW tournament.
The next year, Georgia went 27-10 and won the National Women’s Invitational Tournament championship.
In 1981-1982, Edwards’s final season, the Lady Bulldogs posted a 21-9 record and played in the NCAA tournament.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Edwards says.
Landers went on to coach at Georgia through 2015, posting an 862-229 record, being named the national Coach of the Year four times and leading the Lady Bulldogs to 23 NCAA tournament appearances.
“He recruited well to bring in talent,” Edwards says. “It was interesting to be at ground zero, season one.”
Edwards earned her degree in risk management and insurance from Georgia’s Terry College of Business and immediately took a job with The Coca-Cola Co.
She has been with Coca-Cola for 35 years and is currently a finance executive based in Atlanta, but has done some traveling overseas for the company.
“It’s been a great opportunity for me,” Edwards says.
“And Georgia helped. It was great being a student-athlete at Georgia.”
Edwards says she has enjoyed watching the increased opportunities for female athletes over the years.
“Women’s sports have grown tremendously since the time I started,” she says
And she praised the emphasis that Colquitt County High football coach Rush Propst is putting on getting Packers the chance to perform and get an education at the next level.
Edwards follows Colquitt County athletics and says she still enjoys returning to the community she grew up in.
“Moultrie is my hometown,” she says. “I like telling people I’m from Moultrie.”