The Moultrie Observer
Colquitt County girls basketball coach Rondesha Williams wanted her team to defend its home hardwood when it met Florida A&M High on Thursday in the Colquitt Regional Medical Center Shoot-out on the William Bryant Court at the Gladys Espy Gymnasium.
But she also wanted her team to be taken seriously.
And the 62-42 victory over the undefeated defending Florida Class 2A champions accomplished both.
The Lady Packers did not play near as well on Friday, but held off Pelham 42-33 to raise its season to 7-1.
The Colquitt County boys dropped their second straight game in the tournament on Friday, falling 56-52 to Josey High of Augusta.
The Lady Packers victory over Florida A&M avenged the their only loss, a 54-49 defeat at the hands of the Rattlers in Tallahassee in their season-opener.
It also proved this team can trade blows with a serious opponent and has more ammo than just Makeba Ponder.
Colquitt led 17-5 at the end of the first quarter and FAMU did not reach double-digits until 1:40 remained in the first half.
The Lady Packers lead was 28-12 at the half and moved to 30-12 when Ashley Henry hit a pair of free throws 38 seconds into the third quarter.
That’s when the Rattlers made their move.
At the 5:23 mark, FAMU’s Ja’Nyia McNealy scored, was fouled and hit the free throw to shrink the Colquitt County lead to 11 at 32-21.
All the Lady Packers did after that was outscore the visitors 17-6 the rest of the quarter and went on to win by 20.
“I told my girls, we’re in our house and we’ve got to do whatever it takes to win,” Williams said after the game.
And they did just that.
The Lady Packers pounded the boards, played aggressive defense and spread the scoring around.
“We played a full game,” was how Williams described it.
Ponder, who went into the game averaging more than 21 points a game, had 17, including six in the first quarter and 10 in the first half when the Lady Packers set the tone.
She was clearly ailing late in the game, but she had done her damage.
And she had plenty of help, especially in the person of guard Ashley Henry, who had 12 points, including a couple of big 3-pointers. She also had 10 rebounds.
“She shot the ball well and played great defense,” Williams said.
Perhaps the best defense of the night came from Shakhila “Smoke” Harry and Natalie Griffin on the Ratters’ LaKaris Salter, one of the state’s top players who had 18 in the November victory over the Lady Packers.
But Salter was held scoreless in the first half and finished with just two baskets and two free throws.
“Natalie and Smoke really played their big girl,” Williams said.
Griffin had six points, 10 rebounds and two steals and Harry had nine points, a rebound and five steals.
Dexshalyn Polite had five points, all in the first half; Dezaray Fowler had four; and Abbi Beth Paulk came off the bench to add a basket.
Freshman Jazmine Jones led the Rattlers with 17 points.
On Friday, the Colquitt County boys led 38-35 on a fourth-quarter 3-pointer by Xavier Terry, but falter down the stretch and lost to Josey by four.
“The game just got away from us,” Packers coach Levon Grant said. “We made some untimely fouls and their foul shooting did us in.”
The loss drops the Packers to 2-4 as they prepare to close out 2012 with a 7 o’clock game against Pelham tonight in the final game of the tournament.
Terry led the Packers on Friday with 20 points. Javonta Woods added 12.
Kamoris Woods had nine; Kenji Thompson and Sam Holloway each had four; and Jay Tolbert added three.
“Our guys played hard and we played better than we did on Thursday against Stone Mountain,” Grant said. “We’ve just to work harder. What we’re doing is not enough. We’ve got one more to go to get ready for Camden County.”
Williams said she had a hard time sleeping after the Lady Packers victory over FAMU, worrying that her time would be complacent against Pelham.
And it appeared they were.
The Colquitt girls led 24-15 at the half, but were outscored 10-5 in the third quarter.
After Pelham pulled to within one at 31-30, Williams called a time out with 5:48 left in the game.
She told her team to forget about jump shots and drive to the basket.
Colquitt scored the next six points, all by Ponder, two coming on layups and the other on two free throws. Pelham was never closer than four the rest of the way.
“We knew Pelham wasn’t going to lay down and they didn’t,” Williams said. “But we pulled it out.
“We needed to have a game like that.”
Ponder finished with 28 points. Harry added six; Aikerrion Ryce had five; and Polite and Henry each had two.
The Lady Packers will close out 2012 with a game against Tallahassee’s Rickards high at 5:30 p.m. today. Colquitt’s girls defeated Rickards 60-27 last month.
Also on Friday in the Shoot-out, the Washington County girls defeated Monroe 59-45; the Washington County boys won over Stone Mountain 86-48; the Rickards girls won over Albany 51-44; the Westside-Macon boys rolled past Pelham 63-37; and the unbeaten Norland of Miami girls defeated FAMU 55-35.