Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

THOMASVILLE -- As it turned out, junior forward DaQuenna Moore liked Lee County so much she just couldn't stay away.

And now that she's back, the prep hoops scene in Southwest Georgia just got a whole lot more exciting.

Moore, last year's leading scorer for the Lady Trojans, moved to New Boston, Texas, after last season with her mother Dawn, an officer in the Army. And Texas was where DaQuenna was planning on spending her final two years of high school -- that is, until her mother got news that changed everything.

"About three weeks ago, her mom called me and told me she was being deployed back to Iraq and that she just wanted DaQuenna to be happy -- and what would make her happy was returning to Lee County to play basketball for us," head coach Fran McPherson said after Wednesday's win against Randolph-Clay in the Thomasville Holiday Hoopfest, thanks to 16 points and 15 rebounds from Moore. "We were just delighted to have her back. The team loves her, and she really loves being here."

DaQuenna has played five games since her return, posting double-doubles in the last four. She was even honored as The Herald's Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 23.5 points and 12 rebounds during two wins last week.

"We hated it when she moved away because she was (such a big piece) of his close-knit bunch," said McPherson, whose Lady Trojans had their best season in school history last year with DaQuenna as a sophomore, finishing at 21-9 and hosting the playoffs for the first time ever. "And when her mom called and said she just missed everyone here so much and wanted to be near her family and friends, we were excited."

DaQuenna, who now lives with her aunt in Leesburg, has made an immediate impact for the Lady Trojans, who were 3-2 when she arrived. And although Lee County lost its first game with her back in the lineup against Seminole County, the Lady Trojans have gone 3-1 since with their only loss coming Tuesday night to state-ranked Thomasville.

Lee even avenged that loss to Seminole County a week later at the Wes Burkes Christmas Tournament as DaQuenna dropped 21 points to help beat the Lady Indians in a rout, 53-34.

"She's got a bright future, and she's only a junior," McPherson said of DaQuenna, who is averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds through five games played. "Georgia Southern came to watch her the other night, and she put on a good show."

Lee County was without its second-leading scorer Wednesday against Randolph-Clay -- Carle Ely, who averages 15 points a game but was out sick -- although the Lady Trojans were just fine without her.

Jessica Clinton scored 12 points, Chaz Tookes added 10 and Katherine McConnell scored eight as Lee evened its Hoopfest record at 1-1 and will play Dodge County today in the finale at 4 p.m.

"This has been a great tournament so far because all the teams that came won 20 games or more last year and made it to the state playoffs," McPherson said. "It's been challenging and physical, and that's been good for us."

Kanekia Washington and Casey Sands scored 14 points each for the Lady Red Devils, who fell to 4-8 one season after winning the Region 1-A Championship. R-C will close out the holiday tournament today against Thomasville at 7 p.m.