MOULTRIE — With just four Region 1-AAAAA games remaining, including three this week, the Colquitt County basketball teams face a crucial five-day stretch that begins in Tifton today.

The Packers and Lady Packers are both 4-2 in the region and hold second place in the region standings. Both those spots will be in jeopardy tonight when Colquitt meet Tift County on the road.

The Blue Devils and Lady Devils took a sweep at the Gladys Espy Gym-nasium on Jan. 13 and will try to continue their dominance when the face their old rivals in front of their loud and loyal fans that give Tift County the only “true sixth” man in Region 1-AAAAA.

Tift’s boys are ranked No. 8 in Class AAAAA in the state in the latest Associated Press poll and are 5-0 with a two-game lead over the Packers in the region standings.

But, like the Packers, the Blue Devils will go into tonight’s game after having suffered a non-region loss on Saturday.

The Packers fell 70-55 to East Gadsden High in Havana, Fla., dropping to 12-7 overall. One of their two region losses was by a 57-52 loss to the Blue Devils.

Colquitt won both of its region games last week, knocking off Lowndes 79-53 and getting by Valdosta 62-54 on Friday. The Packers fell behind early against East Gadsden, a team it had defeated 54-45 on Dec. 23, and never recovered.

Tift County’s boys won over Coffee by a point and over Houston County by 10 last week to remain unbeaten in the region, but stumbled against Turner County on Saturday, losing 53-48 in Ashburn. The Region 1-A Rebels are no slouches themselves and are now 13-5.

The Blue Devils are 15-5 and the loss to Turner was their first in 2006, snapping a seven-game winning streak.

The Packers remained close to the Blue Devils throughout much of their game played in Moultrie, but never could slow down Justin Brownlee, who had 24 points, including 17 in the first half. Brownlee has 22 points in the Blue Devils win over Houston County on Friday.

Keith Cagle also damaged the Packers with 19 points, including three 3-pointers.

The Tift County victory spoiled a big night for the Packers Antwan Tuff, who had a game-high 25 points, a total that included five 3-pointers.

The Packers pulled to within three points with 8.3 seconds left in the game in Moultrie, but Terrell Johnson, playing in just his second game for the Blue Devils after transferring from Ware County, hit a pair of free throws moments later to seal the victory.

The Packers rebounded from that loss, and another the next night against Thomasville, also at home, to knock off the Vikings and Wildcats to seize second place in the region.

Colquitt has been starting James Trimble and Andrew Wallace in the front court with Tuff and Jeremy DeBruce shooting from the wings and Orion Ponder doing the ball-handing from his point guard position.

Tift County’s girls have defeated the Lady Packers twice already this season, including by two points in the Lowndes tournament in November and, in the Colquitt County girls most lackluster performance of the season, by 20 at the Espy Gymnasium, 47-27.

The Lady Devils are 3-2 in the region and trail the Lady Packers by a half-game in the standings.

Tift’s girls own a two-game winning streak, defeating Houston County 51-41 on Friday and Turner County 61-32 on Saturday.

But the Lady Devils lost a chance to gain ground on Colquitt County and region-leading Lowndes when they were defeated 43-42 by Coffee last Tuesday.

Tift’s girls will be without Imesha Wells, who suffered a torn ACL in the loss to Coffee, but is getting outstanding play from Lindsay Welker, Justina Brownlee and Jessica Jenkins.

Welker, the sophomore post player, had 14 points against Colquitt County and had 18 against Houston on Friday.

Jenkins, who had 13 against the Lady Packers, had 11 more against the Lady Bears. Brownlee had 13 against Houston County on Friday.

The Lady Packers will try to build on Friday’s victory over Valdosta and put a difficult two-point loss to Lowndes last Tuesday in the past.

Colquitt will have Taquella Coates and Jessica Lemus in the front court, Dorothy Strong bringing the ball upcourt and Ashley Stafford and Nikki Hudson playing the wings.

Neither the Packers nor the Lady Packers want to lose any more to the region-leaders. They have to go to Warner Robins to meet Houston County on Friday, then must play host to Lowndes on Saturday.

Colquitt will travel to Coffee on Tuesday, Jan. 31, for its final region games.

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