Polite's free throws lead Colquitt win in Christmas Shootout

Dec. 31—MOULTRIE — The Colquitt County girls basketball team missed 16 free throws in its Vereen Christmas Shootout-opening loss to Rome on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

And free throws have been a constant problem for the Lady Packers early in the 2022-2023 season.

But D'Zeriyah Polite calmly sank two from the foul line with 5.8 seconds remaining to give the Lady Packers a 63-61 victory over Turner County on Friday in the final game of the 2022 portion of their schedule.

After winning two-of-three games in the annual Shootout, the Lady Packers will take a 7-4 record into their Tuesday, Jan. 3, game against Deerfield-Windsor, which also will be played on the William Bryant Court at the high school.

Colquitt's girls lost 55-50 to Rome in a game whose outcome could have been different if the Lady Packers had been more proficient from the foul line.

Colquitt hit just 11 of 27 free throws against the Lady Wolves.

But Colquitt went on to defeat Coffee 58-46 on Thursday and rode the scoring of Carliss Johnson and Amareyia Knighton and the clutch free-throw shooting by Polite to knock off a Turner County team that is ranked No. 2 in Class A Division II.

The Lady Titans are now 11-2 and the Colquitt County win snapped their nine-game winning streak.

The Colquitt County boys got their first win of the season on Thursday with a 49-47 victory over Pelham.

Sandwiched between losses to Pike Road of Alabama on Wednesday and Early County on Friday, the Packers held off the Hornets in the closing seconds.

Jakari Byrd had 15 points and Cason Harden added 13 in the win over Pelham.

Luke Brogdon and I'marius Bussie each had seven, Everett Green had four and Calvin Washington added three.

The Packers dropped their final game of the Shootout on Friday, falling to Early County 62-45.

Byrd led the Packers with 11 points and Green added 10.

Bussie had eight; Brogden, seven; Harden, four; Washington,three; and Jae Lamar, two.

In the Colquitt County girls game against Turner County, the Lady Titans led 1-0 on a free throw by Jamarie Fowler 55 seconds into the game.

But Turner never led again, although a pair of free throws by Fowler tied the game 61-61 with 16 seconds remaining.

Then, with 5.6 seconds left, Polite was fouled while trying to position herself for a shot to give her team the lead.

The Lady Packers' junior was fouled instead and both of her shots from the line were true.

"We've been harping on free throws all season," said Lady Packers coach Rondesha Williams. "But she knocked 'em down. She knocked 'em down."

The Lady Packers were outscored 18-11 in the final quarter, but overcame several key turnovers to pull out the win.

"We're young and we are going to make mistakes," Williams said. "And when we get mentally tired, that's when we make turnovers.

"But this was a big win. We needed this one."

The Lady Titans had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but were unable to connect.

Johnson had 22 points against Turner County, including 21 on seven 3-pointers.

She also had nine points in the loss to Rome and 16 in the win over Coffee in the Shootout.

Knighton had 19 in the victory over Turner County and had a team-high 51 points in the Shootout.

The sophomore shooting guard had 23 points on Wednesday against Rome.

Polite had 12 points against Rome, 17 against Coffee and nine against Turner County.

The three-day Shootout included 11 girls and six boys teams.