MOULTRIE -- Colquitt County's girls are still trying to figure out a way to get past the first round of the state basketball playoffs.

The last four years, the Lady Packers qualified for the state tournament, but failed to survive the first round.

They will try again at 4 p.m. Saturday when they meet Houston County at Stockbridge High in the first round of the 2003 state tournament.

Unlike Colquitt County, however, Houston County, the No. 3 seed from Region 2-AAAAA may be happy just to be included among the state's top 32 Class AAAAA girls teams.

Colquitt and Houston will open the second day of the state tournament's first round at Stockbridge, where the top four boys and girls teams from Region 1-AAAAA meet their counterparts from Region 2-AAAAA.

The Lady Packers are going to tournament for the fifth straight year, but as the region's No. 2 seed this year, they have their best berth over that span.

Colquitt is 17-11 and finished second in the region tournament on Saturday in Douglas when it lost the championship game to Lowndes 54-42.

While the Lady Packers are somewhat used to making the first-round trip to state, Houston County will making its first state appearance ever.

The Lady Bears also notched their first 20-victory season when they beat Jonesboro 50-40 on Saturday to secure the No. 3 spot from Region 2.

Houston will take a 20-8 record to Stockbridge for the chance to advance to next week's sectionals at Savannah State University.

The Colquitt County-Houston winner will meet the winner of Friday's Camden County-East Coweta game at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28.

Lowndes, which has Region 1's top seed, will meet Jonesboro at 4 p.m. Friday. No. 3-seeded Valdosta will face Warner Robins at 7 p.m. Saturday, and No. 4 seed Coffee will meet Region 2 tournament champion Morrow at 7 p.m. Friday.

Coffee High rallied in the second half to defeat Valdosta 53-40 last Saturday to win the boys Region 1-AAAAA championship. The Trojans will meet first-round host Stockbridge, Region 2's No. 4 team, at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Valdosta's boys will play Houston County at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

No. 3 seed Lowndes will meet Jonesboro at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, while Tift County, which has Region 1's No. 4 seed, will meet Region 2 champion Morrow at 8:30 p.m Friday.

Colquitt County girls coach Joe Parker said on Tuesday that he was not overly concerned with the way his team played in its loss to Lowndes in Saturday's region championship game. Parker did have a problem with his team's 2-for-10 effort at the foul line, however.

Both teams had 17 field goals, but Lowndes got three three-pointers from Brandy Holsendolph and made 13 of their 18 free throws.

"We didn't play that poorly," Parker said. "We hit a couple threes late.

"Every thing was pretty even, but they beat us on the free throw line. We've got to make our free throws."

Parker said he was pleased to go to the tournament as the No. 2 seed. He has led the team to its second-most wins since he took over the program before the 1997-1998 season. The 2000-01 team was 21-7.

Colquitt was 7-21 last season.



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