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LCRD mite girls win state
jc lcrd pizza2
Two of the nine girls on the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association Mite state championship basketball team, Jaelyn James, left, and Akeyla Richardson, right, enjoy their pizza at the Charles Shuman Center. Liberty County defeated Gordon County 44-42 to win the title. - photo by Photo by Jimmy Courier
The Liberty County Recreation Department has a storied basketball tradition, with several Georgia Recreation and Parks Association championship teams. One more team has written their names in the annals of rec basketball history.
The mite girls, coached by Jennifer Coonrod and Gary Guy, won three games in two days over six hours away in Calhoun earlier this month to win the championship.
In the championship game on March 3, Liberty County sparked by CoCo Crockett’s 26 points defeated host Gordon County, 44-42.
Liberty County trailed 32-26 after three quarters but rallied in the fourth quarter with 18 points.
For the girls’ hard work and dedication, LCRD Director Jimmy Martin threw the girls a pizza party at the Charles Shuman Center.
“Any time we have a team win a state championship, it’s the pinnacle of their sport,” he said. “It’s as good as it gets. These girls can say for the rest of their lives, they were the best at that particular activity and time. Just being the sponsoring agency, we’re proud of the effort they put forth in representing their community so well.”
Crockett, Akeyla Richardson, Jakaria Fleming, Chrishaunda Paige, Jaelynn James, Semone Letman, Jacobia Watkins, Kierra Hall and Marena Coonrod can all claim to be on the best 9 and 10- year old basketball team in the state.
“It was a lot of hard work, a lot of discipline and the kids listened to what we told them because we were definitely out-rebounded and most of the teams had more shooters than we did,” Guy said. “We played extra hard and our defense is what got us over the hump. It was very exciting and a lot of pressure.”
To be a successful basketball team, you must be mentally strong as well as physically strong.
“We put our heads together and tried to put the best five on the court at the same time,” Guy said. “It wasn’t easy but we did what we had to do to win.”
Words weren’t enough to describe the way the coaches felt about their girls.
“It was amazing,” head coach Jennifer Coonrod said. “It was just one of those feelings. It was overwhelming for me because my daughter is on the team so I can cry again.”
“I’m super proud,” Guy said. “This is the first time I’ve done this — winning a championship — and I’m super proud. I’m still happy. This was one of the best three game series’ I’ve ever seen 9 and 10-year olds play.
The road to the championship was not easy. On March 2, the team left Hinesville at noon and travelled north to Calhoun, which is 40 miles south of Chattanooga, Tenn.
While most nine and 10-year olds are in bed at 9:30 p.m., these dedicated hoopsters were on the hardcourt playing the game they love.
Liberty County fell behind to Carroll County 23-15 at the half, but rallied in the second half to win 42-41. Crockett led LCRD with 27 points. Richardson scored six, Fleming scored five and James and Letman each scored two.
In the semi-finals, Crockett scored a whopping 46 points to lead LCRD to a 57-49 overtime win against Walton County.
Richardson scored six, Fleming scored four and Paige scored two in the win.
In the championship game, Crockett put up 26 points while Richardson scored 13. Fleming and Watkins scored two points apiece and Paige added a point.
Crockett has been playing basketball since she was three and she mainly plays with boys so, according to her father and coach Guy, playing with the girls was kind of easy for her.
“Playing at the level she played, she reached down and played better defense and team ball than she ever played. She played with a lot of hustle,” he said. “She was our playmaker and everyone focused on her and she knew how to dish the ball out to the other girls”
Editor’s note: A team photo will appear in a future edition of the Coastal Courier.
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