Lady Jets earn 2nd consecutive trip to NJCAA Division I National Tournament
Spartanburg, SC – The South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets roared to a 69 – 42 victory over the Spartanburg Methodist Lady Pioneers in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Women’s Basketball District J championship to earn their second consecutive trip to the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Tournament.
As the District J champions, the nationally ranked Lady Jets will be one of the top 24 two-year college teams allowed to advance to the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Tournament which will be held in Lubbock, Texas, March 19th – 24th. South Georgia Tech will represent Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and south West Virginia in the national tournament. Sixteen teams clinched regional or district championships to advance to the next level and the NJCAA will host Selection Monday on Monday, March 12th at 11 a.m. on www.njcaatv.com to name the other eight at-large berths and announce the individual seeds for the national tournament.
“I am excited for the opportunity to bring this team to the national tournament,” said South Georgia Technical College Athletic Director and Lady Jets head coach James Frey. “I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to win on a regular basis. There is great competition in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). To be able to go to the national tournament back to back years and four of the last five years is exciting.”
When asked how he and his assistant coach Kezia Conyers are able to accomplish this, Coach Fey said, “We start talking about this when we begin recruiting players. There is a standard here that anything less than getting to the national tournament is not acceptable. We are talking to the young ladies we are recruiting now about it for next year. Our administration supports us unbelievably and because of that we owe it to them to work extremely hard and to go out and earn championships.”
Coach Frey also gave credit to his assistant coach Kezia Conyers. “I have the best assistant coach in Kezia Conyers that I could ever imagine having. She is a tireless worker who has taken ownership in this program. It takes a total team effort to be successful and I am thankful for her, our Lady Jets, and for South Georgia Technical College. This is a great place to be,” said Frey.
Coach Frey and the Lady Jets made the long drive from Americus, GA, to Spartanburg, SC over the weekend and managed to secure the 69 – 42 District J Championship victory Saturday. Freshman guard Alyssa Nieves from Tampa, FL came off the bench to lead the Lady Jets in scoring with 18 points. Nieves had four three-pointers and was seven of 14 overall.
She and GCAA Player of the Year, Esther “Nike” Adenike, a sophomore forward from Lagos, Nigeria, were the only two Lady Jets in double-figures. Nike had 10 points and 15 rebounds. Freshman forward Ricka Jackson from Ewa Beach, HI and Kayla Holmes, a sophomore guard from Stone Mountain, both added nine points. Jackson had five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Holmes also had two rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Sophomore guard Dakata Toney added eight points and then sophomore forward Houlfat Mahouchiza scored seven points and had six rebounds and two assists. Bigue Sarr, freshman center from Kaolack, Senegal, tossed in five points, Cedeja James had two points and Sceret Ethridge closed out the scoring with one point.
“We felt like if we could take advantage of Spartanburg inside we had a good shot,” said Coach Frey. “To Spartanburg’s credit, they stayed in a zone most of the day and forced us to make shots from the perimeter. For the first time in a month, we were able to do that. We made nine threes in the game and in the second half, Spartanburg went to a man defense and we were able to get the ball inside more. Alyssa Nieves and Dakata Toney were big for us Saturday making multiple three’s each. They had to step up and they did. Dakata set the tone early and made two in the first four possessions. It was a long trip but well worth it to see us come out and play really hard and get the win.”
The Lady Jets are currently 28 – 5 overall and finished the season with a 17 – 1 conference win. They have now secured their fifth GCAA regular season title, their fourth NJCAA Region XVII tournament title and their fourth NJCAA District J Championship in five years. Coach Frey has been the GCAA Coach of the Year for four years and had 20-plus wins each year during his six-year tenure at South Georgia Tech. The Lady Jets did not qualify for the national tournament his first year but came back and put together back-to-back trips to the national tournament before winning the conference title but losing in the NJCAA Region XVII tournament in 2015-2016 to miss out on the national tournament trip. The Lady Jets have now earned their second back-to-back opportunity to advance to the national tournament.