Moultrie Observer

Local Sports

November 13, 2012

Basketball teams to scrimmage today

MOULTRIE — Colquitt County basketball fans will get a preview of the 2012-2013 seasons when the Lady Packers and Packers play host to Thomasville today in scrimmage games on the William Bryant Court at the Gladys Espy Gymnasium.

The girls game will start at 6 p.m. The boys game will start at about 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5.

The Lady Packers will send out a starting five that coach Rondesha Williams expects will take the floor when her team opens the season on Nov. 23, in the Fastbreak Shoot-Out in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Colquitt County boys team, which was 7-15 last season, will be without as many as three or four starters, who are still competing with the Packers football team.

But second-year boys coach Levon Grant says he looks at that as an opportunity for a number of other players to gain valuable practice time and game experience.

“This will really help me evaluate some individuals,” Grant said. “We’ll be able to see how they perform, how they do what we ask them to do and how hard they play on defense.

“And it’s going to be an adjustment for some of them, going from playing eight minutes a game to 28 minutes.”

Xavier Terry will start the shooting guard position and Grant has high hopes for him.

“He came in and hit some big shots for us last year,” Grant said. “He has 12 points in our win over Coffee with four threes. And he had some big shots in the game against Tifton. So he’s shown some flashes.”

Kenji Thompson will start at the point guard position tonight.

“He started a few games for us last year,” Grant said. “He handles the ball well.”

Also expected to start tonight are Jay Tolbert, Shaheem Ponder and Kamoris Woods.

This will be the first year of varsity play for Woods.

Tolbert is expected to provide good work off the bench this season, Grant said.

“He is probably going to be our sixth or seventh man,” Grant said. “He relishes that role.”

Grant said he was unsure what to expect from Thomasville, which went 19-8 last year, winning a first-round Class AA state tournament game before being eliminated by Laney High in the second round.

The Packers will open the regular season on Nov. 30 at Bainbridge.

The team might still be lacking several key components – Javonta Woods, D.J. Johnson, Jamiyus Pittman, John Peterson and Samuel Holloway – who are still with the playoff-bound Packers football team.

Williams will not have to wait for her key players.

They have been together since last summer, when they played 45 games in June, and she sounds ready to see this team on the court.

“It should be an exciting year,” Williams said. “These kids have worked hard over the summer.”

The key ingredient, of course, is junior Makeba Ponder, a two-time All-Region player who was the region Player of the Year and an All-State selection last year.

Ponder averaged 19.3 points a game last season and has only become better while playing AAU basketball in the off-season, Williams said.

Joining Ponder in the starting lineup tonight will be Ashley Henry, Ja’nice Sailor, Shakhila “Smoke” Harry and Natalie Griffin.

Williams sounds eager to show off Griffin, who was a force inside for the 16-12 Lady Packers last season.

“She’s lost about 20 pounds and is really getting up and down the floor,” Williams said. “I’m excited for her.

“She and Smoke have really gained a lot of confidence. They can relax and play together in the post.”

Abbi Beth Paulk and Felicia Bowman will provide some depth inside.

Henry will fill the void left by the graduation of Maranda “Bird” Trim.

Both she and Dezaray Fowler had strong summers at the ball-handling position, Williams said.

“They really have matured,” Williams said. “They have joined together to step up and play offense and defense. They both shot very well this summer.

“But what we want is for them to play defense, get a steal and then the offense will take care of itself. And they’ve bought into that.”

The Thomasville girls were 11-15 last year but play the kind of game that Williams wants to see in a scrimmage.

“They’re a pressing team and they run up and down the floor,” Williams said. “It will be good to see how we handle the press.”

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