The Heard County High School girl’s basketball coach will lean heavily on versatile senior standout Jasmine Cook, along with junior twins Jemeka and Shemeka Parks, in the backcourt to lead the way for the Lady Braves this season.
“I mean, Jasmine Cook is a solid girl. She plays every single position we have on the court. She sees the court amazingly. Jemeka is a great driver and extremely athletic. Some of the moves she pulls out, I don’t know how she does it. She is by far our most athletic kid on the court. Then Shemeka is just kind of our staple to our defense. We have to have her on the court. She’s a hard-working kid. She sees the floor very well,” Williams said.
And though the Lady Braves, who suffered a 51-49, season-opening setback to Central on Tuesday night, graduated just one senior, they lost a pair of key contributors from last year’s elite eight squad.
Senior guard La’Rice Walker transferred to Sandy Creek and Cali Harrod opted to sit out her sophomore season to focus on softball. What that ultimately means for Williams is that she’ll have to turn to some younger players and hope they can emerge into prominent roles early in their prep careers.
Heard County does have seniors Christina Cole and Tanisha Johnson starting in the post, and after that there’s a lot of youth coming off the bench. Freshman Jordan Watson — a star pitcher for the Lady Braves’ softball team this past fall — will see plenty of time in the post, while fellow freshmen Ashayla Hill and Madison Whitehead will get minutes in the Lady Brave backcourt. Another freshman guard, Kemaiya Brewer, was also expected to be part of that mix, but she suffered a broken ankle and will likely miss the season.
“They’re all good little guards and we’re just working on ball-handling skills and where to be and just the IQ of basketball, pretty much,” Williams said of the freshmen.
In the Tuesday night loss to the Lady Lions, Williams cited some “first-game jitters” from some of the younger girls, but the Lady Brave coach said the team is improving every day and is on track to be where it needs to be by the end of the year.
Jemeka Parks poured in a game-high 22 points on Tuesday, while Cook added 12. Williams said the upperclassmen will have to show the younger ones what it’s all about to play at the varsity level and be a part of the Heard County program.
“It’s about tradition and bringing that up through our freshmen. Our seniors have it and our juniors have it, but it just needs to be brought up through our younger kids and doing the little things right — making every single lay-up, really getting a feel for the left hand, knowing where everybody is on the court. Just little things like that,” Williams said.
And with a new-look Region 5-AA this season that adds local rivals Bremen and Bowdon, Williams said it will be a challenge to repeat as the region champs, but it’s one that she looks forward to this winter.
“I mean, it will definitely affect us. Hopefully, we’ll be a strong enough team that when we see them, we’ll get by them. We’ll also see them in the Haralson County tournament here at Christmas time, too,” Williams said. “But I just want to beat them that one time when we’re in that region tournament. As long as we beat them then, I’m fine with that.”