KATHLEEN -- Rare is the night that Kya Cochran isn't the shortest person on the basketball court.
Just as rare is the night that Cochran doesn't provide among the greatest impacts in a game on that court.
"I haven't grown really much," Veterans' senior point guard said. "It kind of frustrates you at first. But after awhile, I learned what I was good at.
"I'm smaller, so my parents always told me, 'Use your height to your (advantage). It doesn't matter how tall you are. If you're faster, if you can handle the ball, handle the ball better than the usual guard.' Do stuff, the little things."
Cochran has done the little things and the big things, and she is a reason the Warhawks are back in the GHSA Class AAAA Tournament's Elite Eight, ready to face Carrollton on Thursday at Fort Valley State.
Granted, it's not quite the home game Carrollton had a year ago when the two met in a semifinal at West Georgia, barely a mile away from the high school.
But it's game Cochran and her teammates will never forget. They led all the way, until Alecia North -- who has graduated -- put up an off-balance 15-footer with a dozen seconds left for the game-winner, and a dagger in Veterans' heart.
"We've been waiting for this moment to get back to the Final Four," Cochran said. "Well, the Elite Eight right now. We never thought we would be playing them again, but we're ready.
"We want the revenge, but we need to focus. Our main focus is not to get too rattled on the revenge part of it."
Much of the responsibility for maintaining that focus will fall on the shoulders of Cochran, who has been very much a major force in the program head coach Nicki Miranda has built.
And those shoulders are near the top of a lean frame that tops out at five feet tall.
Cochran moved to the county when she was in seventh grade, with sister Kerrigan immediately joining the Veterans varsity. It was during Cochran's freshman year she was promoted to the varsity.
Soon enough, she was good enough for Miranda to move Kerrigan from point to off-guard. Miranda knew such a change was only a matter of time.
"When I watched her play middle school, I knew she'd be special, just because of the type player she was, her court presence and her ability to handle the ball," Miranda said. "That's such an art these days. If you can handle the ball against pressure, you're a rare commodity."
Cochran's ability to feel no pressure was evident soon enough. The Warhawks were a low seed entering the region tournament but won two games to set up a third meeting with West Laurens, which had won the first two games.
"She hit a runner through the middle," Miranda said. "I'll never forget it. About 20, 25 seconds left in the game, a tie game. She came off our pick and roll, just kissed it off the glass down the middle.
And Cochran has been pretty much ice water ever since.
In Cochran's four years, Veterans is 87-32, with two regular-season region titles and two region tournament titles.
At the heart of that is the 18-year-old who is mature and personable beyond her years, a teenager as at ease chatting with adults as being giggly with classmates or when talking -- she almost gasps -- about Alabama football.
Cochran has played in 112 games at Veterans and has 825 points, 350 assists and 289 rebounds -- that's 2.6 a game for the shortest person on the court -- and 251 steals.
She has averaged 255 points the past three seasons and 3.85 assists a game the past two seasons.
Cochran is the typical gym rat and basketball junkie, talking or texting with Miranda -- who was a guard and shooting whiz at South Carolina -- about the game constantly, whether the topic is Seth Curry or Oklahoma's Buddy Hield.
She was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, then moved to England and to Fayette, Alabama before arriving in Houston County in middle school.
Adjusting has never been much of a problem. Nor has being height-challenged for the 3.7 GPA student.
Cochran just plays.
"She's developed into a complete player," Miranda said. "A lot of times, she gets three four five rebounds. She can jump out of the gym. She's just a really good athlete."
Cochran is well aware that there aren't many 5-foot point guards on the college level, but she hasn't given up hope on getting a shot.
Her slightly distant future, however, is taking a backseat to the immediate future.
""My parents always tell me, 'don't look at that, that'll come, just play your game, don't worry about that, don't try to outscore your team,'" Cochran said. "We really don't have problems with that. We would all love to play college basketball, but we know we all have one goal."
Avenging last year's loss to Carrollton is part of it, as are winning two more games, and getting a ring.
Jewelry lasts a long time.
"Yes sir," Cochran said. "And memories are forever."