For the past two seasons Lady Panther basketball coach Carolyn Kelly would describe her team as skilled, but very young. However as the coach looks at the roster of returning players the word young doesn’t apply.
"We have some returning players with a lot of varsity experience under their belt although they are just juniors and a few that are seniors. So that being young is not an excuse for me this year," Kelly said. "They have two good years of basketball and fundamentals under their belt. So I’m hoping they are going to come out and be productive for us. We also have a good group of freshmen coming in. And once they get into the routines and get into the fundamentals we’ll be able to use and move a few a few of those freshmen and have them dress out for the varsity squad."
The coach said the girls have worked hard during the summer, training with her friend and South Georgia Kings coach Derrick Brooks.
"He taught them a lot of new drills and a lot of new things, which was definitely a lot of help to me," she said.
Among the players Kelly expects a great season from is standout Diamone Johnson, Precious Williams, Courtney Rhodes, Catherine Scaggs and Charlee Coursey, who sat out last season to concentrate on softball, as well as former BI Lady Tiger Tiara Howard.
"We have a variety of kids," the coach said. "We don’t have any major superstars, but we have a bunch of kids that know the game of basketball and I think in the end that is going to be a big plus for us. That is the thing I like about this team. We are not as tall as I would like for us to be, but we have a lot of kids that can play a lot of different positions. We have all of our positions filled with the quality people that we need there."The coach said she is extremely excited about the new region as well. It means shorter travel times for the away games and a competitive schedule within both sub-regions.
"I know the competition is going to be a lot stiffer because we are playing bigger schools, but I think we are going to do OK. Statesboro is going to be tough even though we don’t play them until we get to the opposite side," she said about their future sub-region opponent. "They have three kids over there in the 6-foot area. They run the court well. And they handle the ball very well."
Kelly said Brunswick, Wayne County and Glynn Academy are also going to be very tough.
"It’s going to be a competitive region and you can’t count anybody out," she said.