MOULTRIE -- Girls basketball success at Lowndes High has been a given for the last 25 years or so under the direction of the legendary Charles Cooper, Cliff Ranew and now Laine Craven.

The Vikettes have won a number of region and state championships and along the way have been a particular nemesis for Colquitt County High.

When the Lady Packers rallied from a four-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Lowndes 46-42 on Jan. 21, it marked the first time since Feb. 5, 1993, that Colquitt's girls had defeated Lowndes.

A region championship has been even longer in coming for the Colquitt County girls program.

Under Julian Grantham, Colquitt won Region 1-AAAA in 1984-85 with a 23-5 record and repeated the title the following year with a 21-3 mark.

Jo Ellis led the Lady Packers to the region title in 1987-88 with a 15-9 record.

But since those years, Colquitt has had no region championships, just one 20-win season and only four winning seasons.

When they take the court at the Charles Cooper Gymnasium at 7 tonight against the Vikettes, the Lady Packers be able to erase at least one of dubious records.

A victory would give Colquitt County the regular-season region championship, ending a 14-year drought.

It also would give the Lady Packers the No. 1 seed for next week's region tournament in Douglas and an automatic berth in the state tournament, which begins Feb. 21-22.

In many ways, the season already has been a successful one. The Lady Packers are assured of both a winning overall record and a region record.

Since the 1987-88 region championship season, Colquitt's girls have managed just two winning region records: a 7-4 mark in 1988-89 and a 13-3 record in 2000-01.

Three times over that span they have been held winless in the region and on another occasion won just one region game.

Colquitt is 7-2, with both of its losses to Coffee. But they will easily be forgotten if the Lady Packers can knock off Lowndes tonight.

The Vikettes are 8-1 in the region after their 57-37 victory over Valdosta on Friday.

A Colquitt County victory would give both teams an 8-2 region record, but because of the sweep of the Vikettes, the Lady Packers would win the title.

These Lady Packers still have a shot at reaching or surpassing the success of the 2000-01 team that went 21-7 overall and 13-3 in the region.

A win tonight would guarantee a fifth-straight trip to the state tournament and Lady Packers coach Joe Parker has used various combinations of his nine top players to put his team in a position to win the title.

Senior Valeika Ponder has been the team's go-to scorer and is averaging 10.3 points a game, including 18 in last month's win over Lowndes.

And Ponder has been so productive off the bench, she generally does not start. Parker is likely to send out Tearra McDonald, Katherine Faircloth, Mantoya Thomas, Teresa Hamilton and Jessica Lemus for the opening tip.

Latoya Seay, Ashley Stafford and Ashley Harrison also will see time.



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