MOULTRIE – In high school sports, nothing can make coaching a new season more enjoyable than thinking back to just winning a championship. For the second time in three years, Rondesha Williams opened up Colquitt County Lady Packer basketball practice as defending Region 1-7A champions.
Williams’ program in these last three years was like a factory for perimeter players. She had two of the top three all-time scorers at the same time, and one more climbed the list in a major way one season ago.
Things are going to look different, however, for 2019-20. Before, you could line up the whole team side by side and not see more than a shade difference in the size of one player to the next. This season, the Lady Packers are going to be a threat inside in more than one way.
“We have a target on our back this season,” said Williams about carrying the 1-7A banner. “Right now, everybody is 0-0. We are going to put the work in and see what happens in late January. I think we have a good team.
“I’m excited about the four true post players I have. Last year I didn’t have any posts. Our team was all guards.
“I have to talk about the freshman, Carliss Johnson. She is a true basketball player, a very high basketball IQ. I’m excited to see what she brings to the program.”
The last reliable post player Williams had was Kiara Lovett, who was part of the 2016-17 region championship squad, which was the first for Williams in her long tenure as Lady Packer coach.
Now, sophomore Gracie Bell Paulk is back after missing basically a season-and-a-half to a major knee injury suffered during her 8th grade season. Keyana Faulk played sparingly on varsity last season. Heaven Robinson, who stood side-by-side with Paulk numerous times at the middle school level, is playing again after missing last season. The fourth is Shadasia Reynolds, and these girls are not barely post height, but 6-foot or better.
“It gives you options where everything is not relied on your guards,” said Williams. “All they have to do is get in the paint, grab rebounds and put the ball back in the basket. Heaven has shown the most improvement. I’m excited about what she will contribute this season.”
The ‘face’ of the Lady Packers now is one you could call ‘Miss 35’ because most nights you could go ahead and put 35 on her point total. Janiah Ellis, who committed to Troy University this week, wound up with 564 points for a 21.7 average per game, and that’s Diamond Hall-Za’Nautica Downs territory.
“Janiah is going to do great things for us,” said Williams. “She’s been in here every day, and I’m molding her to be a true leader on and off the floor. I want her to go out on top.
“Camille Singletary’s done a great job running the point. Our guard play is still good.”
And Williams can’t do any of it without her staff led by longtime assistant Stephanie Cody.
When the coach held that championship trophy back in February at Camden, she said any of the four in the league had what it took to be champions. It may have caught some by surprise that it was Tift County playing in the finals, but not Williams.
“Anybody can win it again,” she said. “On any given night, whoever wants it the most is going to be successful. I hope when region play comes we want it the most. I’ve asked them to be committed, all in. We actually only have four who played varsity returning. We have our work cut out, but I believe in our staff and my kids.”
The schedule also includes tournament play in Albany, Tallahassee and the Peach State Classic in December.