MOULTRIE – Coach Rondesha Williams is pleased with how her 2019-20 Colquitt County High girls have played in their first four basketball games.
But, she is quick to add, championships are not won in November or December.
The Lady Packers, with just two returners who were prime contributors to last year’s 22-4 region championship team, defeated Hardaway, Bainbridge, Brookwood School of Thomasville and Early County to open the season.
The pieces to the puzzle that, when put together could approach the success of last year’s team, are there, Williams says.
“But the pieces are crumbled up,” she earlier this week. “We need them to fit together perfectly.
“We are still learning to understand our roles. We are a work in progress. But we’ve got time.”
The Lady Packers won their first three game handily, dispatching Hardaway 63-33; Bainbridge, 41-28; and Brookwood 63-41.
But Williams’ girls were challenged when they met Class AA state runner-up Early County on Saturday at Monroe High in Albany.
The Bobcats were 27-5 last year and feature All-State post player Makayla Timpson.
And the Lady Packers found themselves scrambling when starting guards Camille Singletary and Carliss Johnson fouled out with four minutes remaining.
“We could have folded,” Williams said.
But then recent Troy signee Janiah Ellis took over the game.
“She just commanded the ball,” Williams said. Her teammates responded, holding on for a 53-50 victory.
Ellis scored 564 points and averaged 21.7 points a game last season and is off to a similar start this year.
She opened the season by hitting three 3-pointers in a 20-point effort that also included three assists and four steals against Hardaway. She added 14 against Bainbridge and 21 against Brookwood.
The Lady Packers will need her experience and scoring when they face one of the Sunshine State’s top program in 3-0 Florida State High at 12:40 p.m. today in the Tallahassee Thanksgiving Shootout at Rickards High.
Colquitt will meet Rickards High in the Shootout at 4:45 p.m. Saturday.
Williams expected Ellis, and Singletary, the other top returning LP, to perform well. Three others with far less experience also are playing well in the early going.
Sophomore Gracie Belle Paulk has had surgery on both of her knees in the last two years, but she has played well in the first four games.
She scored eight points and had 10 rebounds in the opener and had 17 points against Brookwood.
Williams said she expects Paulk to get even better as she gains confidence in her repaired knees.
The play of Johnson, a freshman, shouldn’t be surprising because Williams has been looking forward to having her in a varsity uniform for years.
But Williams has been pleased with what she has seen so far. Johnson scored 13 and 12 points in her first two games.
“She’s special,” Williams said. “She’s still getting used to playing on the varsity level. But she works hard.
“And another thing I like about her is that she plays defense.”
Also having a big game in the season-opener was junior Keyana Harper, who pulled down 18 rebounds.
“And Keyana can score, too,” Williams said.
With Paulk, Harper, Heaven Robinson and Shadasia Reynolds, the Lady Packers have some rare depth in the paint this season.
Williams said she also expects Kelsey Dawson, Audreyanna Rowland and Karlie McMullen to contribute this year.
“We’re going to need all 10 to be successful,” Williams said.
The Lady Packers will have six games under their belts when they play their first game of the season on the William Bryant Court Saturday, Dec. 7, with Monroe visiting for a 6 p.m. game.
“We really came out ready to play in Columbus (in the opener against Hardaway),” Williams said. “If we can come out ready to play like that every night, we can be successful.”