South Georgia Tech Jets defeat Gordon State in GCAA contest
The South Georgia Technical College Jets moved one step closer to possibly hosting one of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) District XVII tournament games after defeating Gordon State College, 77 – 70 Wednesday night in the Hangar on the SGTC Americus campus.
“This was a big win. I mean a big win,” said South Georgia Technical College Jets head basketball coach Travis Garrett, after his team battled Gordon in an important Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) game to try and secure one of the top four spots in the GCAA Division I regular season conference standings.
The win placed South Georgia Technical College in a three-way tie for third place in the GCAA Division I standings with Gordon and Georgia Highlands with identical 9 – 6 conference records. By defeating Gordon College Wednesday, the Jets moved ahead of the Gordon Highlanders in head-to-head competition and if they secure a win on Saturday against East Georgia, the Jets could hang on to the fourth place spot in the standings and host the NJCAA Region XVII Tournament quarter-final game on Tuesday, March 5th.
“I am very proud of the guys for the way they kept battling and hustling,” said Coach Garrett. “We needed this win. This gave us a chance to still attain our goal of hosting a playoff game. Now we just have to finish the drill and win against East Georgia on Saturday at 6 p.m.”
Central Georgia Technical College defeated Georgia Highlands in other action Wednesday night to move into first place in the GCAA standings with an 11 – 5 record. They have completed their GCAA regular season conference schedule. Andrew College is in second place with a 10 – 5 record. They are scheduled to host Georgia Highlands on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Cuthbert. A win by Andrew would force Central Georgia Tech and Andrew in a tie for first place and they would share the GCAA regular season conference title. Andrew defeated Central Georgia Tech 78 – 65 on Saturday so a win on Saturday, March 2nd would give Andrew the advantage in head to head competition and allow them to host the NJCAA Region XVII semi-final and final tournament games on March 8th and 9th. A loss by Andrew allows Central Georgia Tech to remain in first place.
“It all comes down to what happens on Saturday,” said SGTC Coach Garrett. “We are in control of our own destiny. We just have to play hard and win against East Georgia. A victory would put us in fourth place and depending on how everything else turns out, we could finish the regular season as high as third. It just depends on how bad we want it and how hard we are willing to play to reach that goal.”
When South Georgia Tech hosts East Georgia, who is one game back of the Jets with an 8 – 7 conference record on Saturday at 6 p.m., Andrew will host Georgia Highlands and Gordon will host South Georgia State College. Those two games are being played at 3 p.m. and South Georgia Tech will know the results before they take the court on Saturday at 6 p.m. East Georgia defeated South Georgia Tech 84 – 80 in the first match-up between the two teams in Swainsboro on January 26th.
In the match-up with Gordon College Wednesday night, the Jets scored first and went up by as many as eight points early before the Highlanders roared back to pull ahead briefly. There were three ties and three lead changes in that first half before South Georgia Tech pulled ahead 35 – 33 going into the locker room at half-time.
The two teams continued to battle back and forth in the second half with four more ties and two more lead changes. The Jets pulled ahead 71 – 61 in the final minutes and hung on to take the 77 – 70 victory.
Freshman guard Justin Johnson from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, led the Jets in scoring with 23 points. He had 11 points in the first half and posted 12 more in the second half. He wound up with eight rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot on the night.
While Justin Johnson was the top point maker for the Jets, it was three other freshmen that fired up the crowd late in the game with outstanding shooting and defense. Toriano Lewis, a freshman forward from Richmond, VA, had 16 points. He was five of nine from the three-point line and hit three big three-point shots in the second half to spur the Jets toward their victory. Freshman guard Jaylan McKinney had a total of nine points on the night, six of which came in the second half. He also played tough defense and helped keep Gordon’s point guards off target from the three-point lane. Gordon who is known for their three-point shots was only 3 of 19.
Nick Cummings, a freshman from Eastman, GA, contributed eight points, five rebounds, two assists and one very timely blocked shot. Cummings blocked a shot under the basket forcefully and that brought the SGTC fans and players to their feet. Gordon called a time-out and the momentum keep moving toward the Jets.
Sophomore forward Jonathan Tchuisse had a great game with nine points and five rebounds. Brice Paster and Jeremy Johnson both contributed six points in that win. Sam Matice was scoreless but provided several key rebounds and played good defense under the basket. Sophomore Adonis Green was not at the game due to a family emergency.
The Jets will try to control their own destiny on Saturday at 6 p.m. when they host East Georgia State College. The women’s NJCAA Region XVII finals are scheduled to be played in the SGTC Hangar on the Americus campus at 2 p.m. prior to the men’s game. The Lady Jets are currently ranked first in the conference with an 18 – 0 record and are hoping to advance to the final round after facing Albany Tech’s Lady Titans in a 5:30 p.m. Friday game in the Hangar.