Ahead of her time

Numbers can tell Candice Warthen's story.

Hers are 14, 26 and 83.

The Warren County point guard deserves a speedy introduction. Warthen can dart from one side of the court to the other in less than 10 seconds.

Warthen is 14 years old. She's averaging 26 points per game for her varsity team. The freshman is just 83 inches tall.

"That's pressure," she said. "All eyes are on me. I can score 20 points and it's an off night. I didn't get a chance to be a freshman and slowly ease into it."

That wouldn't be her style. The 5-foot-3 Warthen has already topped the 30-point mark three times this month.

"I can't imagine what she's going to be like when she gets to be a senior," said teammate Somone Hordens, a senior. "She may average 45 or 50 points per game then."

The Lady Devils didn't win a game last year. They've already won three this year with Warthen leading the way.

She scored 32 points and added 10 steals in a win this year against Georgia Military College. She followed that up with 32 points, nine steals and five rebounds against Glascock.

"She's all business and nothing but basketball," Hordens said. "We've been waiting for her to get to high school. What she is doing is no surprise to us. If you saw the way the girl played in middle school you knew she was going to be good. That girl's athletic ability is a gift from God."

Life hasn't been all blessings. She never knew her father because of a deadly dispute when she was two.

"Her father wasn't a part of it," said Makessa Erwin, her mother. "There were two guys that got into an argument. He tried to play peacemaker. He tried to break it up between two other people. But he got the bullet."

Plenty of fathers strain their voices cheering their little girl all over the area. Willie Warthen never got the chance to do that

"She's a chip right off that block," Erwin said. "She gets all her ability from her father."

Her team knows the story. They see the way she works during practices. It makes them appreciate her that much more.

"When the girls take a water break during practice she won't stop. She'll work on a drill or try to learn something new to help her game," Warren County coach Rasheeda Ursry said. "That girl just lives her basketball."

Her teammates appreciate that as much as her ability to score with either hand.

"Just because life doesn't go the way we want it to doesn't mean a person has to make it worse," Hordens said. "Every person still has the opportunity to make their life worth living. She does all that. She plays great basketball. She makes good grades. She doesn't have a bad attitude or a star attitude. What more can you ask of anybody? What more can you ask out of a freshman?"

The only time Warthen lets her youth show is before games. She has a nervous spell before every game that's only solved with a trip to the bathroom.

"I've never had a game I wasn't nervous," she said. "It's like that all the time. I don't know why. I get all nervous and have to go run take a trip to the bathroom. I don't ever throw up. I just have to go to the bathroom. I am just so nervous I want to do well. But after the jump ball I am all right."

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.