Lady Jets fall to Central Georgia Tech in NJCAA Region XVII semi-finals

March 18, 2024
Mio Sakano, 13, was the top scorer for the Lady Jets with 22 points.
Mio Sakano, 13, was the top scorer for the Lady Jets with 22 points.

Swainsboro, GA – The South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets never had a lead and only tied the Central Georgia Technical College Lady Titans three times in the first half before dropping a 73 – 67 decision in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XVII semi-finals Friday at East Georgia State College in Swainsboro. Central ended up losing to East Georgia, 76 – 44, in the finals. East Georgia will now advance to the NJCAA National Tournament in Casper, Wyoming.
The Lady Jets closed out the 2023 – 2024 season with a 21 – 11 record under first year Athletic Director and Lady Jets head coach Jason Carpenter. The Lady Jets were ranked 2nd in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) conference with a 13 – 5 record prior to advancing to the NJCAA Region XVII end of the season tournament. The loss to Central Georgia ended the season for the Lady Jets.
“Central Georgia Tech played a great game. They deserve a lot of credit,” said SGTC Lady Jets head coach Jason Carpenter. “We were not at our best on Friday and this time of year you have to be. I am disappointed in the outcome for the young ladies on our team. We improved substantially throughout the season despite some early struggles, setbacks, and growing pains. It is an unfortunate way for the season to end.
“Winning matters and I’m disappointed we came up short of winning another GCAA title, but I am proud of the determination, commitment, and growth these young ladies showed throughout the season,” added Carpenter.
This is the first time in eight years that the SGTC Lady Jets will not be heading to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament. The Lady Jets have been to the National Tournament 10 times since the program began in 2004 – 2005, and nine times in the past 11 years. Brandon Harrell, SGTC’s first Lady Jets head coach took the team to the NJCAA National Tournament in 2009 – 2010. He left SGTC to begin the women’s basketball program at Georgia Highlands in Rome in 2012.
James Frey took over the reigns as the Lady Jets head coach in 2012 and his teams qualified for the national tournament nine of the 11 years he led them. They did not reach the national tournament in his first season as head coach or in 2015 – 2016. The Lady Jets were ranked number one in the nation under Frey in his last season, 2022 – 2023, and finished in the Elite Eight at the NJCAA National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas, that year.
Carpenter is only the third head coach in the Lady Jets 19-year history and he managed to post a 21-game winning record despite taking over the reigns in late August of 2023 with only three non-starters returning from the Lady Jets best season ever in 2022 – 2023.
“I am looking forward to recruiting; building on the lessons learned from the past season; and leading SGTC back to the top of the GCAA and national prominence going forward,” said Carpenter.
In the NJCAA Region XVII semi-final match-up against Central Georgia Tech, the Lady Jets fell behind early and trailed by as many as 12 points with two and half minutes remaining in the first quarter. Central was up 20 – 11 at the end of the first 10-minutes. A-three point shot by sophomore Vera Gunaydin with 7:45 remaining in the first half, allowed the Lady Jets to close the game to four points, 18 – 22.
The Lady Jets secured their first tie at 24 – 24 with 5:29 showing on the clock in the second quarter. They caught up with Central again twice. The last tie, 28 – 28, came with 2:10 remaining in the first half. Central was able to pull ahead again and went into the half up 33 – 32.
Central came out strong in the second half and led by 10-points with 38.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Lady Jets scored five points in less than 40 seconds to close the gap to 47 – 54 going into the fourth quarter.
Again, Central took charge in the fourth quarter and pulled ahead by 11 points in less than a minute. The Lady Jets pulled within three points at 68 – 65 with 4:11 remaining in the game but failed to capitalize on that opportunity and lost 73 – 67.
The Lady Jets had 33 turnovers in 40-minutes against Central Georgia Tech and only hit seven of 24 three-point attempts. Central had 24 turnovers and was seven of 18 from the three-point line. Twenty-one of the Lady Jets points come at the free throw line from 29 attempts. Central was 11 of 26 from the foul line.
Freshman guard Mio Sakano led the Lady Jets in scoring with 22 points. She was followed by sophomore guard Vera Gunaydin with 14 and freshman guard Destiny Bishop closed out the double digit scoring with 11 points. Sophomore center Maeva Fotsa added nine points for the Lady Jets. Isabel de Souza Bueno and Enola Papin had four points each and Greta Carollo closed out the scoring with three points. She was the leading rebounder for the Lady Jets with 11.