MOULTRIE -- Colquitt County girls basketball coach Joe Parker says he believes his team can win at least as many games as the 2002-2003 team did.

With six of the 17 victories last year's team had already under its belt, the Lady Packers have the opportunity to surpass that number and challenge for the elusive Region 1-AAAAA championship.

This weekend's CNS-Farmers Gin Colquitt County Invitational could provide a glimpse at how this team can perform down the stretch.

After meeting Worth County at 6 p.m. Friday at the Espy Gymnasium, the Lady Packers will meet either Cairo or Coffee on Saturday.

Both the Syrupmakers and the Lady Trojans are expected to contend for region championships as well and how well the Lady Packers perform against either one should serve as a good barometer.

"First, we need to go ahead and take care of Worth," Parker said of the Lady Rams, a team his Lady Packers defeated 46-43 back on Dec. 13.

And as the score of the teams' first meeting indicates, it is not likely to be a cakewalk. The Lady Packers had to weather a 27-point effort by Taylor Youngblood to hold off the Lady Rams.

And Parker sounded concerned that his team might play to its potential against a team it may feel it is better than.

"We don't need to do things we don't ordinarily do," Parker said. "We want to be aggressive on defense."

Particularly on Youngblood.

"We let her hurt us inside," Parker said.

The Lady Packers have split their four games since beating Worth, losing to Thomasville 52-34 at home and winning two of three in the tournament in Jones County.

A victory in its final game in the tournament gave the Lady Packers third place.

"Overall, I thought we played real good," Parker said.

In its only loss in the tournament, the Lady Packers led Putnam County by eight at half, but did not rebound well after intermission and fell 55-51.

Seniors Tearra McDonald and Micole Sutton and sophomore Jessica Lemus had especially strong tournaments.

McDonald was named to the All-Tournament team and scored 10 points in game that gave Colquitt third place. She is averaging 10.3 points a game so far.

Sutton scored 15 and 10 points in the final two games.

"She was incredible against Putnam," Parker said. "When she slashes to the basket, she's tough."

But it was Lemus, the 6-foot forward, who stood out in Gray. She scored 18, 15 and 17 points in the three games in the tournament, raising her average to 12 points a game.

"She is really looking good," Parker said. "And she plays non-stop."

All will need to play well against Worth and either Cairo or Coffee on Saturday. Parker will be on hand to watch those two play in the tournament opener at 3 p.m. Friday.

Both are strong.

Coffee is expected join Lowndes and Colquitt in making a run at the Region 1-AAAAA championship.

Cairo's girls will bring a 6-2 record into the tournament. One of those losses came by a 64-45 score to Thomasville on Monday in the championship game of the CNS/Reebok Holiday Hoopfest at Thomasville High.

The Syrupmaids are led by veteran Shawnta Pope.s

Thomasville's girls, who have defeated Colquitt County twice, are 9-0.

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