In sports, the stars make the team, but the role players complete the team. It has been proven time and time again that stars are important, but you are nothing without a supporting cast, just ask NBA champion Lebron James. It’s no surprise that Jada Lewis and Tiffany Holston have been the shining stars of Georgia State’s women’s basketball team this season. For that reason, players like K.K Williams, Kierra Henry, Kennesha Nichols and Makeba Ponder fly under the radar, but they are very successful in the role.
Williams is a starter for the most part unless Coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener decides to shake the lineup around. This season she is averaging 5.8 points per game along with and three rebounds per game. This season she has also set a new career high twice with 13 and 14 points respectively.
“I think I get it done on the defensive end, I would say that I’m a very good defensive player that’s definitely one of my strengths, as well as communication just talking on defense and communicating with my teammates,” Williams said.
Williams is one of the better defenders on the team, she leads the team in steals with 32. She just seems to always be around the ball on defense, and you can count on her for a big steal when you need one. In the 1:30 of game action against South Alabama, Williams was 7-8 from the free-throw line to help seal the victory for the Panthers.
Henry averages 6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game this season. In wins, she is averaging about 7.5 points per game. It’s a small difference for the season total but on a game-to-game basis, in wins, she gets double figures or close to double figures. Henry is a consistent starter and a presence around the basket.
One of the more impressive things about Henry is the fact that she’s a biological science major and she still manages to keep very high grades.
“It’s hard to juggle, but I think I’m getting a little bit more used to it at this point, but I definitely have to keep my focus.and stay on stay on track,” Henry said.
Ponder, is the team’s three-point specialist. She leads the team with 41 made three point attempts, which is good for 32 percent on the season. She is second in team history in three’s.
“Shooting, and I try to distribute the ball more, and leading my team is one of my strengths,” Ponder said. “ I’m out here to play, but I am shooting for the record.”
Ponder is a veteran and is playing well in her role as the sixth man off of the bench this season. This season she is averaging nine points and three rebounds per game. Her scoring average is good for fourth on the team, but she is behind Madison Newby who hasn’t played since the third game of the season with an Achilles injury.
Sophomore Astaja Tyghter is a starter with loads of potential, the only thing stopping her from being a star is inconsistency. She is averaging 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this season. There have been six games where she has either been the leading scorer or tied for the leading scorer. Her season high is 22 points, which came against UL Monroe. Her 22 points are the highest that anyone has scored in a game this season. She won’t score 20 points in every game, but she has to potential to be effective night end and night out if she could just find the consistency.
Nichols is a junior and a veteran presence off of the bench for the Panthers. Her number aren’t flashy, averaging 4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
“Me being able to see the floor, and seeing other people,” Nichols said, are her biggest strengths as a player. Nichols has led the team in scoring twice this season, against Penn State and Georgia Tech. She had 12 and point points respectively in those two games. Nicholas is third on the team in blocks with ten.
While their record doesn’t show it, the team has been playing better as of late, and part of the reason is because everyone has been thriving in their roles that they have carved out with the team. That is the most important part of the team, and when they win it reflects that everyone did their job and completed their task for the day. This next stretch of games is important as the Panthers prepare for the Sun Belt conference tournament, expect them to continue to gel and begin to play better.
“This year is better than last year,” Henry said. “We feel like we’re a good family now.”