Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

SYLVESTER -- They're on their way, carving their own path, their own road to success and leaving teams in their wake.

If the Worth County Rams haven't arrived yet, at least they have served notice that they are well on their way.

"We're trying to get there,'' Worth coach Arthur Davis said.

They're taking giant steps.

It may not be fair to call the Rams giant killers, even though that's exactly what folks in Southwest Georgia thought when Worth shocked this part of the state by knocking off Herald No. 1 Monroe, 78-59, a couple of weeks ago.

But not now. Not after Tuesday's 52-51 win, right there in the Dougherty gym against The Herald No. 5 Trojans.

Now after beating two of Albany's city powerhouse programs, Worth will shoot for No. 3 tonight when the Rams come to the Boston Garden to face Herald No. 4 Westover in an 8:30 p.m. showdown that looms much, much bigger after those wins.

"Anytime you beat Monroe and the kind of caliber team they have (it will get everyone's attention). And then they come back to beat Dougherty in a close game. That has to give them confidence,'' Westover coach Dallis Smith said Thursday night.

Yes -- Worth has Westover's attention.

Of course, the Rams know exactly what a win would mean tonight.

"It's a pretty big game,'' Davis said. "To get to where we want to be you have to go through Westover. They're one of the best and have been for a long time. (Westover) knows what it's about.

"They've been there year-in and year-out.''

A Worth win tonight would not only make a statement (well, the third huge statement for the Rams) but it would shake up the Region 1-AAA race. Westover still leads the pack and the Patriots (11-6 overall and 4-1 in the region race) already own a victory against Worth -- a one-sided 63-48 win on Dec. 7 in Sylvester.

But that's exactly what bothers Smith.

"I've tried to get our kids to stay focused,'' Smith said. "That's not the same team that we beat. They're a different team.''

Same players, but a different attitude and a growing confidence in themselves.

"Westover played well that night. They beat us,'' Davis said. "But after that game we had a long talk. When I took the job (last year) you knew that year-in and year-out that Monroe, Dougherty and Westover are going to be there every year.

"We want to be considered one of the better teams in the area, and to do that you have to beat those teams. Beating Monroe and Dougherty, those were big wins for our program. But once those games were over, we had to move on and get ready for the next game. In this region, you can't take a night off.''

Worth has been playing short-handed of late. Trey Frager missed two games last week because he was playing in the Border Wars football All-Star Game in Moultrie, and Davis has three reserves sitting out until next week because of disciplinary reasons.

Frager returned Tuesday and had a big game against Dougherty, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Frager and 6-foot-7 Elisha Tolbert, who is averaging eight points and 12 rebounds a game, have given Worth a solid inside game, but the Rams love to beat you from the perimeter.

Dee Nether, a quick-hit point guard who can nail the 3, leads the team with a 15-point average, and Tumaz Gaint had a big night against Monroe, bombing in 21 points from outside.

The other guard is Jatavius Rockwell, who scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds against Dougherty in that 52-51 win Tuesday.

Worth's quickness and ability to hit long jumpers gives teams tough matchup problems.

"Worth has a lot of pieces that give people problems,'' Smith said. "(Davis) got them going, and in this region you have to be ready to play every night.

"I'm sure they are playing with a lot of confidence.''

Westover still is in control with only one region loss (a tough 42-37 defeat to Monroe in the Civic Center last week) but tonight's game is a must-win for the Patriots, who want to be the No.1 seed for the region tournament.

"We've got (five of the final seven region games) at home. We travel only to Crisp and Dougherty,'' Smith said. "If we can protect our house, we'll be OK.''

But Smith knows how much the game means to Worth. He is used to teams getting sky-high to play his Patriots.

"Everybody gets ready to play us,'' he said. "It's that way from Day 1. That hasn't changed.''

But Worth has. The Rams are 10-7 for the season and just 2-4 in the region race, but they have earned everyone's respect and come to Albany tonight confident they can play with any team in the region.

"We're working hard trying to get to where we want to go,'' Davis said.

They could take another giant step tonight.