Liberty County Lady Panther basketball coach Carolyn Kelly said she has one returning veteran senior on the team this year, but a wealth of talent among her younger players.
Tia Fleming is Kelly’s post player and four-year starter. She is expected to lead the Lady Panthers as the veteran and captain.
Kelly said Dominique Wouldard, an incoming senior, just enrolled at LCHS and has joined the team. Most of the rest of the players got valuable minutes of play last year or are moving up from junior varsity.
“We have a lot of young girls,” Kelly said. “A lot of ninth- and 10th-graders and three juniors. I think we should be OK. We have some good players in some key spots. We won’t be big, but we have a few kids that played with us last year that moved up and will help us out a little bit on the boards.”
In addition to Fleming playing a critical role, Navia Telfair will be point guard.
“She is still recovering from a fractured wrist, which happened before her softball season began and should be well-healed by December,” Kelly said.
Juniors Kiara Edwards, Telfair, Tia Anderson, Alayanna Flanders and Jasmine Brooks all have varsity experience. Javonna Johnson, Bridgette Stewart and Arianna Bruden-Force are expected to see time as they move from JV to varsity throughout the season as necessary.
Sophomores expecting to get varsity time include Dominique Roberts and Destiny Craig.
“Destiny Craig is going to be the two guard,” Kelly said. “She definitely has the eye to shoot. Again she is talented but young … But she will be able to open some things for Tia. That is something we haven’t had for the last two-three years, somebody to shoot the ball on the wing.
“She will be able to open things up for us by scoring a few baskets from the side and leave Tia down low, and then we can dish it in to her for that one-two punch.”
Kelly said the younger girls are learning to get a better understanding of the court.
“We are athletic, but they are still young and they don’t quite understand the defense and the offense that you are trying to run,” she said. “But at the same time they are talented, athletic players.”
Last season, the Lady Panthers went 8-13 overall and 5-5 in Region 3-AAAA.
Looking over this year’s schedule, Kelly said the region will still be tough. Wayne County was Liberty’s biggest threat.
“Wayne County is loaded,” she said. “They have about five or six talented seniors and will be the toughest team in our region this year.”
The Lady Panthers’ run begins Saturday at Bradwell at 6:30 p.m.