Five seniors highlight annual girls basketball banquet

May 2—MOULTRIE — Presiding over her final banquet as the head coach of the Colquitt County girls basketball team, Rondesha Williams could not say enough about her final group of seniors.

"To see how much they have grown ..." Williams said of D'Zeriyah Polite, Nyleigha Knighton, Jamya Moore, Dalivia McBride and Ameris Johnson. She was unable to finish the sentence.

"I knew I had to ride it out with these girls. And this has been a fun season, an awesome season for us."

Williams has stepped down as the program's head coach after 17 seasons in which she posted a 302-154 record and had six years with 20 or more wins.

She holds the program's record for most career victories.

Williams, who also was an assistant principal at the high school, will become the school system's Director of Student Services.

The Lady Packers were 12-8 in the 2020-2021 season when the five current seniors were freshmen.

This year, they were the backbone on a Lady Packers team that went 23-6, posting the second-most wins in a season program history, and advanced to the state quarterfinals.

All five are headed off to study at college, Williams said: Polite, to East Georgia or Georgia Southern; Knighton to Point University to play flag football; Moore and Johnson, to Kennesaw State; and McBride to Fort Valley State.

Each was a recipient of one of the individual team awards.

The Best Offensive Player of the Year, however, went to junior Amira Walters-Smith, who was named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association' All-State team and received honorable mention on the Atlanta-Journal Constitution's All-Class 7A team.

She was Region 1-7A Offensive Player of the Year after scoring 492 points and averaging 17.0 points a game.

Although last season was her first at Colquitt County, she already has scored 1,600 points in her high school career.

She played her freshman season at Camilla's Westwood School, a Georgia Independent Athletic Association program in Camilla, where she scored 448 points and averaged 17.2 points a game.

As a sophomore, she moved to Mitchell County High School, where she scored 660 points and averaged 22.8 points a game.

At Mitchell County, she scored 30 or more points in a game 10 times and had 42 against Quitman County and 35 against both Miller County and Pataula Charter Academy.

"She can shoot the cover off the basketball," Williams said. "I've never seen anything like it."

The Best All-Around Player Award went to another junior, Amareyia Knighton, who scored 383 points and averaged 13.7 points a game this season.

She finished the 2023-2024 season with 975 points and is expected to reach the coveted 1,000 career points plateau early next season.

Knighton was a first-team All-Region selection this season.

Polite, one of the five seniors, earned the Defensive Show-Stopper Award to go along with her second-team All-Region plaque.

"She carried us defensively," Williams said. "I told her, 'We'll only go as far as you take us defensively.'"

Johnson almost wasn't around for her senior season, having decided to give up basketball before Williams helped her change her mind.

After helping lead the team to 23 wins, Johnson received the Game Changer Award.

"She has such a high basketball IQ," Williams said of the first-team All-Region selection. "On the court, she always knows what's going on."

Moore, who was named to the All-Region second team, won both the Most Improved Player Award and the Kenneth "Juicy" Wallace Most Dedicated Player Award.

Williams marveled at how much extra time Moore put in to become a valuable part of the 2023-2024 Lady Packers success.

Williams also noted that Moore is close to becoming certified as a pharmacy tech.

The James Stancil True Lady Packer Award went to McBride.

And Williams noted that she will represent Colquitt County at the state track meet.

"She can jump out of the gym," Williams said.

Two Lady Packers received the Sixth-man Award.

Nyleigha Knighton is one of the recipients. She was an honorable mention All-Region player.

"She is one of the most outstanding athletes I've seen," Williams said. "She can do a lot of things."

Caylnn Singletary is the other Sixth-man Award winner.

Freshman Nicardia Robinson also earned honorable mention on the All-Region team.

The program's players whose grade point averages were 90 or above earned the academic awards.

They went to Walters-Smith, McBride, Johnson and Moore.

"That is a major accomplishment," Williams told the academic award winners.

Junior varsity coach Dexshalyn Polite introduced her team and noted that it lost just two games this season.

"I've seen so much dedication and so much growth," she said.

Robinson earned the Best All Around Award and Aubrey Edge was presented with the Coach's Award.

Williams praised the work of assistant coach Stephanie Cody, who has been beside her on the Lady Packers bench for 14 seasons.

"She has been the backbone of Lady Packer basketball," she said, then turned to Cody and added, "You are like a little sister. I can't thank you enough."