Lady Jets defeat Georgia Highlands to win NJCAA Region XVII Tournament
Americus, GA – Sophomore guard Shaineequah Fluellyn scored 32 points to lead the nationally ranked South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XVII Championship Saturday in a narrow 65 – 63 victory over former Lady Jets head coach Brandan Harrell and his Georgia Highlands Lady Chargers from Rome, GA.
This is the fourth consecutive time that the Lady Jets have been in the championship game under head coach James Frey in his five years at South Georgia Tech. It is also the third time in four years that the Lady Jets have clinched the title. Coach Frey’s Lady Jets defeated Coach Harrell and Georgia Highlands in 2013 – 2014, upset Darton College in 2014 – 2015, lost to Georgia Highlands in 2015 – 2016, and came back and defeated Georgia Highlands in the championship this season. The win allowed the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) regular season champion Lady Jets to advance one step closer to reaching the NJCAA Division I Women’s national tournament.
The Lady Jets will now host the NJCAA Region X champion Denmark Tech team from Denmark, South Carolina, on Saturday, March 11th at 2 p.m. in the Hangar for the NJCAA District J title. The winner will advance to the Division I women’s NJCAA national tournament in Lubbock, Texas, March 20th – 25th. Each District champion earns an automatic bid and eight at-large teams from around the nation will receive bids.
Denmark Tech was the top team from Region X which includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and South West Virginia. The South Georgia Tech Lady Jets are now 28 – 4 and Denmark Tech is 11 – 9. They beat Spartanburg Methodist 63 – 44 to win the Region X conference tournament and advance to the District J tournament.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this team,” said South Georgia Technical College Athletic Director and Lady Jets head coach James Frey after his team battled a very strong Georgia Highlands Lady Chargers team to capture their second NJCAA Region XVII title in three years. Last season Georgia Highlands upset the Lady Jets in a 65 – 63 decision at the buzzer to snatch the championship title from the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association regular season champion Lady Jets.
“This game was everything that a championship game should be,” said Lady Jets head coach James Frey. “There were 11 lead changes and five ties throughout the 40-minute contest. The Lady Chargers had the ball in the final seconds of the game but our defense kept them from getting off a last second shot before the buzzer sounded.”
Coach Frey kept praising his team which has overcome injuries and adversity during the last month and a half of the season. “We lost three starters late in the season due to injuries and personal situations but our young ladies stepped up and stayed the course to get us to this point. We set our goals to win the GCAA regular season, the NJCAA Region XVII tournament and now we have to win Saturday to realize our goal of becoming the District J champions and having the honor to compete in the NJCAA National Tournament again.” The Lady Jets went to the national tournament in 2013 – 2014 and 2014 -2015.
Sophomore center Desiree Corbin was one of the two injured starters. She has missed the last two weeks with a hairline fracture of her knee. She was able to come back and play in the semi-final and final games of the tournament. She didn’t produce any points in the championship contest but played strong defense and had six rebounds before she fouled out in the fourth quarter.
Shaineequah Fluellyn, the sophomore guard from Molena, GA, was the difference in the tournament. She had 32 points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals to lead the Lady Jets Saturday. She went down with an ankle injury before the half but came back in the second half and scored another 23 points on a freshly taped ankle.
Fluellyn also scored 18 points in the semi-final game against Chattahoochee Tech and had 14 points and four rebounds against Albany Tech in the first round game. “She definitely stepped up and provided the leadership on the court and the scoring threat that we needed to win the tournament,” said Frey. “I am so proud of her.”
Freshman forward Esther Adenike from Nigeria was the only other Lady Jet in double figures in the game with Georgia Highlands. She had 12 points and seven rebounds. Freshman forward Houlfat Mahouchiza from France tossed in six points and had three rebounds, freshman guard Marina Balaguer from Spain accounted for five points and had three rebounds and freshman guard Trakyra Kidd scored four points.
Freshman guard Kanna Suzuki from Japan and freshman center Sceret Ethridge both added three points to round out the scoring for the Lady Jets in the championship game.
“Now we have to get ready for Denmark Tech,” said Coach Frey. The Lady Jets played Denmark twice early in the season and won, 93 – 54 and a 78 – 63 in the November members. “We are both different teams since those first meetings. We have to work hard this week and concentrate on doing all the right things to put ourselves in the position to win on Saturday.”
Frey, who was named GCAA Co-Coach of the Year this season is currently 133 – 34 in five years at South Georgia Technical College. He has been Coach of the Year for three of his five seasons as well as the NJCAA District XVII Coach of the Year three times and the District J Coach of the Year twice. Frey has won 20 or more games each season at South Georgia Technical College.
Assistant Coach Kezia Conyers captured her 100th win as an assistant coach this year and is 113 – 22 at SGTC. She has been with the Lady Jets four years and has been a part of each of the three GCAA championships and NJCAA Region XVII championship wins. She has also been to the national tournament twice in the past four years with the Lady Jets.