Moultrie Observer

Local Sports

January 19, 2013

Seventh-graders sweep; eighth-graders split

MOULTRIE — The Colquitt County seventh-grade girls’ basketball team ran its season record to 11-0 with a 32-19 victory over Tift County Saturday at the 8th Street Middle School Gym.

The seventh-grade boys avenged an early-season loss with a 39-36 win, and remain tied with Coffee Middle School atop the region standings.  

The Lady Packers relied on their stifling defense and the hot outside shooting of Za’Nautica Downs to steadily build a 30-10 lead through three quarters of play.  Downs hit on nine of her seventeen shots from the field – including four 3-pointers – to finish with 24 points.  She also recorded nine steals and only committed three turnovers.

“Za’Nautica was on today,” coach Jon Scroggins said.  “Her game started on the defensive end – as it usually does; but then she played great in transition, worked to get other players involved, and didn’t force up bad shots.”

Eight Lady Packers recorded at least one steal.  Twelve players grabbed at least one rebound, led by Michaela Bennefield with nine and Kiarra Lovett with eight.

Bennefield added four points, and Lovett and Abiyah Spencer each scored two.

“Michaela and Kiarra worked really hard on the inside for us,” Scroggins added.  “Michaela hurt them last time, so they were committed to defending her, and several times Za’Nautica was the beneficiary of that.”

Keysha Jackson — a sixth-grader and a late-season addition for the Lady Devils’ seventh-grade team — led Tift County in scoring with six points.

In the second game, Colquitt County used a steady dose of J.J. Peterson and Cameron Singletary to attack Tift County’s tough defense, while working tirelessly to defend the perimeter, as the Blue Devils took more than half of their field goal tries from behind the 3-point line.

“We practiced a new defense this week, concentrating on defending against the outside shot,” Coach Josh Purvis said.  “We did a pretty good job, really, even though they still hit some shots.  We didn’t give up the corner ‘threes’ that killed us last time.”

The Packers held a small lead most of the game, but every time it looked like they were going to be able to build it, a gutsy Tift County team fired back and tightened the gap.  Trailing by five at halftime, the young Blue Devils worked even harder to set screens and create space for their shooters, and took three separate leads in the final period.

Each time the Packers fell behind, Singletary found the answer.  The first time, he hit back-to-back jumpshots.

 The second time, he fed Peterson in the post, who scored to re-gain the lead.  Finally, he hit a slashing JaQuan Willis, who scored to cut a three-point deficit to one.  Then, at the 1:15 mark of the fourth quarter, Jarvis Christopher hit a go-ahead 3-pointer, and the Packers were able to preserve the lead the rest of the way.

“Jarvis did a great job defending their best player all day,” Purvis added.  “I was glad to see he had the legs to rise and hit that big shot.”  

Peterson had a game-high 15 points, while Singletary added 11.  Christopher added eight, and Christopher finished with five.

Both coaches noted the outstanding support of their players’ parents, estimating that Colquitt County fans nearly outnumbered hometown Tifton fans.

The seventh-grade teams close out the regular season Thursday versus Newbern Middle School at the Willie J. Williams Middle School gymnasium.  

The Colquitt County eighth-grade boys played one of their best games of the season and made a long trip to Douglas a successful one with a 36-22 victory over Coffee.

After an 0-3 start, the eighth-grade Packers have won seven of eight and will take a 7-4 record into Wednesday’s game at Hahira.

Colquitt trailed 11-9 at the end of the first quarter, but never let Coffee have a double-digit quarter the rest of the game.

And the contest was close until the fourth quarter when the Packers hit 9-of-13 free throws.

Tory Ponder was 10-for-12 from the free throw line for the game and hit six in the fourth quarter.

“And Da’Nas (Andrews) controlled boards, Allen Key was solid defensively and Tyrese (King) played his usual solid floor game,” eighth-grade coach Roger Jones said. “We played pretty good today. Our defense was stellar.”

Ponder led the Packers with 12 points. Key had eight, King and Dankerius DeBruce each had six and Andrews had four.

The eighth-graders will return to the Charlie A. Gray Junior High gymnasium next Saturday to play host to Lowndes at 10 a.m.

The eighth-grade girls fell 45-6 and are now 2-7.

Ty’asia McNeal, Shelby Pinero and Ashunte Stewart each had two points.

“Listening is a skill that we have yet to acquire,” said coach Tiffanie Young.

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