LOUISVILLE, Ga. -- Tiffany Stephens isn't ashamed to admit it. The Jefferson County senior post player says there's no telling where her high school basketball career would have ended up if she hadn't found God.
Stephens is just one of the six seniors on the Lady Warrior basketball team who have helped guide Jefferson County back to the state basketball tournament.
Her play on the inside has been phenomenal this season. She leads the team with nine rebounds per contest and ranks second on the team in scoring, averaging 12 points per contest.
"When Tiffany has a good game, it seems like everybody else has a good game, too," said junior guard and leading scorer Taliah Roberts. "When Tiffany has a bad game, things don't go so well for us."
Roberts said when the Lady Warriors lost to region leader Putnam County by five points last week, Stephens had just four points in the game.
"Tiffany didn't have a good game that night," Roberts said. "If she could have scored more points, we could have won that game."
The 6-foot-1 senior has surprised even herself with the season she's having. But she doesn't take credit for any of it, instead giving praise to a higher power.
"I had a friend, Terrilsky Davis, that always talked to me about God," Stephens said. "I know he probably thought that I wasn't really interested in what he was saying but I really was.
"I was in class (earlier this year) and I kept thinking to myself that I needed a change in my life. So I talked it over with coach (Scott) Pope and told him that I wanted to give my life to Jesus."
That day changed Stephens' whole life. She said giving her life to Christ has helped her mentally and spiritually and has helped her become a leader for the team.
"I remember Tiffany coming up to me before basketball season and asking me if I saw anything different about her," Jefferson County girls coach George Samples said. "I thought to myself, no not really. But she said, `Coach, I got saved.' She's got a lot more self-confidence this season."
Stephens said that before her conversion, she would often get frustrated in games when things didn't go right and lose her composure. But that doesn't happen anymore. She believes she's more mature and when things aren't going as planned, she doesn't get rattled, instead keeping her faith in God.
Five other seniors -- Antrice Harmon, Monica Holloway, Cassie Battle, Ivey Birt and Tequila Winns -- also have helped Stephens maintain her composure this season.
A convincing victory over arch-rival Washington County on Tuesday night in the Region 3-AA tournament earned Jefferson County a berth in the state tournament, and the Lady Warriors don't plan to stop there.
They meet Swainsboro today in the tournament semifinals. With a win, Jefferson County could play for the Region 3-AA title on Saturday night. The Lady Warriors are playing their best basketball of the season and have their sights set on higher goals.
"I feel like we could go all the way," Roberts said.
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.
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