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June 24, 2014

No summer holiday for Lady Devils, Conner

TIFTON — Prep basketball is no longer just confined to the winter. That is a very good thing for a self-confessed "basketball junkie" like Tift County Lady Devils head coach Julie Conner. Her sport does not just live during the span of October-March anymore.

"I love summer," said Conner.

The team is in between camps at present. Last Friday was spent at Columbus State and they will return to the college arena this Friday as they take part at the women's basketball summer clinic at the University of Florida. This will be their third big camp total during the month; the other was a Fellowship of Christian Athletics camp June 2-4 in Tennessee.

At Columbus, she said they went 2-1 in competition. One of the wins was against Columbus High, a result that thrilled Conner. "Last year, they annihilated us," she said. Tift went to the sweet 16 in the state tournament in 2014. Columbus went even further, finishing as state runners-up in Class AAAA to Redan, who beat them by 10 points.

"Our defense is great," she said. "We were all over them like ants."

They did have a slip against Pepperell, but overall things have been working out well. "The other day, we beat Thomasville and Mitchell County," she said. "I'm very pleased with what we're seeing. We have several very good basketball players." Defense was again the key.

The team has been very united during the summer. Conner believes the real camaraderie began during the FCA camp.

Tuesday, they were to travel to Ware County to scrimmage against Brunswick, Glynn Academy and Ware. Brunswick was a region opponent for the past two years, but moved down after the GHSA's reclassification.

Their last stand of the summer comes later this week with the Gator camp. They will be going out with a bang, as the coach said that four teams were going to Gainesville: the varsity, junior varsity and two younger teams and a grand total of 41 players. They won't be cheated on time spent, either. The team calendar lists the bus leaving Eighth Street Middle at 6 a.m. and they were to return at midnight.

Starting Sunday, the GHSA begins its dead week as the calendar switches from 2013-14 to 2014-15.

The next basketball action will not begin until Oct. 27 when the league first allows practice to start.

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