ALBANY -- It was technically an away game for former Sherwood and Worth County basketball star Courtney Mitchell, but it didn't feel any different than the average home contest for the starting Valdosta State forward on Friday, as she had plenty of fans at Albany State's HPER Gym, where her Lady Blazers lost, 70-66, to the Lady Rams.
"We get to see her play at all the home games and some of the late (away) games, but it's really good to watch her team play and they've got a really good team and we enjoy watching them," said her mother, Gina Mitchell, the former SCA girls coach who is currently the head coach at Crisp Academy, and was one of more than a dozen family members to show up for the game. "She has her role, and she's doing a really good job at it."
Courtney Mitchell only had two points against ASU, but she was hustling for all 23 minutes she was on the court, which is why she's one of the team's regular starters.
Mitchell, a junior, said she's just happy to be a part of the team and wants to help in any way she can.
"I try to play good defense and stop my man. I try to get as many boards as I can," she said. "(This) school is great and we have great coaches, so hopefully (Friday night) wasn't a good (example of how good our team is). Hopefully we'll turn it around for conference."
SU coach Kiley Hill thinks they will, but the Lady Blazers will need Mitchell's help.
"There is no question -- from the day we decided to sign Courtney -- that her work ethic is unquestionable," Hill said after the game. "Sometimes she doesn't do everything exactly the way we want it, but one thing we can always count on -- that's why she's a starter for us -- is that we know she'll always give us maximum effort on every possession. (She has) a heart bigger than Dallas, and she'll play like that any given day of the week."
Even her fellow players have taken notice.
"Courtney Mitchell is a (great part) of this team," said fellow starting forward Brittany Ferguson, who scored a game-high 20 points Friday and leads the team in scoring. "Everything that comes out of that child's mouth is a laugh, so we're glad to have her on the team."
That's the attitude Hill wants Sunday, when the Lady Blazers take on Fort Valley State in their next game.
"There's not much else you can say about (her)," Hill said. "It's hard to measure someone's heart, but when you see her (play), it's (obvious she has a big one)."