VALDOSTA -- Last year, Valdosta beat Morrow in the first round of the state tournament, then went on to make the state semifinals.

This year, Valdosta will play Morrow in the first round of state again.

Deja vu? The Lady Wildcats hope so.

"It would be nice to make the semifinals," Lady Wildcats head coach Deidre Williams said. "But we're not thinking about the semifinals or the quarterfinals right now. We're just focused on beating Morrow."

Valdosta plays Morrow Saturday at 7 p.m. at Tift County High in Tifton.

Last year, the red-hot Lady Wildcats defeated the Lady Mustangs 54-42 in Jonesboro. This year, the game is in Tifton, Morrow has a new coach, and Valdosta has graduated two of its main players from that game. But the Lady Wildcats' confidence has not waned.

"I'm confident. I always think we can win if we play hard, and play well," Williams said. "If we play our best, no one can beat us. If we don't play well, we beat ourselves."

Williams doesn't know much about Morrow, but the Lady Mustangs are not really her concern, anyway.

"I don't worry about the other team," the sixth-year head coach said. "My concern is my own team. We have to play well. If we play well, we'll win."

In the past two months, the Lady Wildcats, for the most part, have played very well. Valdosta is 21-6 overall, but since a four-game losing streak in December (playing without two starters), the Lady 'Cats are 19-2.

As they have all season, the Lady Wildcats will depend heavily on their three senior starters, Elizabeth Petit, Tori Williams and Chelsa Williams, as well as sophomore point guard Tamara Petersen. All four are averaging double figures in scoring, and each has had big games this year.

"All of them have to (step up)," Coach Williams said. "This is a team game. We have to play as a team."

One thing that will help Valdosta in its playoff run is its experience. All five starters on this year's team were there last year. Petersen and both Williams were starters, while Petit saw considerable minutes off the bench.

"Experience always helps," Coach Williams said. "Any time you've been there before, it helps you."

So what is the Lady Wildcats' goal heading into the playoffs? Right now, it's just to beat Morrow.

"You always want to do better than last year," Coach Williams said. "But right now, we've got to beat Morrow. We can't look ahead. We have to take it one game at a time."



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