SGTC Jets fall to Georgia Highlands in NJCAA Region XVII quarterfinal round
Rome, GA – The seventh seeded South Georgia Technical College Jets traveled to Rome to see if they could upset the second-ranked Georgia Highlands Chargers in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XVII tournament quarterfinals Tuesday, but the Chargers walked away with the 81 – 69 victory.
It was not the season that the South Georgia Technical Jets and head coach Travis Garrett had hoped for. The Jets closed out the 2019 – 2020 year with a 13 – 18 overall record and a 6 – 10 performance in the conference. As the seventh seed in the tournament they had to face off against a strong second place Georgia Highlands team in Rome in the first round.
After taking the 12-point win over South Georgia Tech, Georgia Highlands will now travel to Macon, to play the third ranked South Georgia State College Hawks. South Georgia State College defeated sixth-ranked Gordon 70 – 63. In the other quarter-final contests, top-ranked Central Georgia Tech downed East Georgia State 81 – 71 and fifth-seeded Andrew College upset the fourth ranked Albany Tech Titans 90 – 88.
Central Georgia Tech secured the regular season top seed by winning a tie-breaker with Georgia Highlands College in conference play. As the top seed, Central Georgia Tech will host the NJCAA Region XVII semi-finals and finals. In the semi-final round, Central Georgia Tech will take on fifth ranked Andrew College Friday at 6 p.m. and then the second-ranked Georgia Highlands Chargers will play South Georgia State at 8 p.m. The two winners will meet at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 7th.
Coach Garrett and the Jets had high hopes for an upset win over Georgia Highlands in the NJCAA Region XVII tournament. They had upset Gordon State College three days earlier, 71 – 61, and had won three of their last four contests.
The Jets did score the first points in the match-up with Georgia Highlands when sophomore Jaylen McKinney posted a three-pointer to put South Georgia Tech ahead 3 – 0. But the lead did not last very long. The two teams battled back and forth throughout the first half with six ties and seven lead changes. South Georgia Tech’s largest lead in the first half was four points and Georgia Highlands had stretched their lead to 12 with 1:10 left in the half. The Jets posted up a basket to cut the deficit to 46 – 36 at the end of the first twenty-minute period.
South Georgia Tech came back in the second half and scored first again to pull within eight points of Georgia Highlands. The Jets scored again to cut the gap to six points at 46 – 40 with 18:23 left to play. However, that was as close as they could come. Georgia Highlands wound up with a 19-point lead with 12:42 still on the clock at 60 – 41.
The Jets did battle back to cut the difference to 11 points but Georgia Highlands never let them back in and captured the 81 – 69 win.
Sophomore Justin Johnson led the Jets with 19 points on the night. He and Lamont Sanders were the only two South Georgia Tech players in double-digits. Sanders had 12 points. Sophomore Toriano Lewis scored nine points, Jaylan McKinney had eight and Merdy Bata added five.
Jalen Reynolds and Jonathan Kanyanga both added four points, Tobais Long and DJ Fisher contributed three points each and Brice Paster closed out the scoring with two points.
Trevin Wade and Caheim Brown led Georgia Highlands in scoring with 21 and 20 points.
This was head coach Travis Garrett’s fifth season as head men’s basketball coach at South Georgia Technical College. His overall conference record is 38 – 42 and 75 – 80 overall. His teams have finished as high as third in the regular season conference play. He also has a fourth place finish and three seven place finishes. The Jets have advanced to the NJCAA Region XVII Tournament finals twice in five years and lost in the quarter-final round the other three seasons.