SGTC Jets upset Gordon State in NJCAA Region XVII tournament first round

March 8, 2017
Sophomore Pat Welch, 15, sank the winning three-point basket with 6.8 seconds to allow the South Georgia Technical College Jets to upset the second seeded Gordon College Highlanders in the first round of the NJCAA Region XVII tournament in Barnesville.
Sophomore Pat Welch, 15, sank the winning three-point basket with 6.8 seconds to allow the South Georgia Technical College Jets to upset the second seeded Gordon College Highlanders in the first round of the NJCAA Region XVII tournament in Barnesville.

BARNESVILLE, GA – South Georgia Technical College sophomore guard Pat Welch from Pembroke, NH, drained a three-point shot with 6.8 seconds remaining in the game to lift the seventh-ranked Jets to a 76 – 74 upset victory over the second seeded Gordon State College Highlanders in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XVII Tournament in Barnesville.
The Jets will now advance to the NJCAA Region XVII Final Four round at Georgia Highlands College in Rome, GA on Friday, March 10th. South Georgia Tech will face the sixth seeded Albany Tech Titans at 5:30 p.m. in Rome on March 10th. Albany Tech upset the third ranked Central Georgia Tech team 78 – 66 in their first round game. The top-ranked Georgia Highlands squad rolled over the eighth-seeded East Georgia State team 103 – 68 to earn the right to host the semi-final and final rounds. They will play fourth seeded South Georgia State at 7:30 p.m. March 10th in the other semi-final round. South Georgia State defeated Chattahoochee Tech 98 – 86 to earn the right to advance. The two winners will meet in the finals on Saturday, March 11th at 2 p.m. in Rome.
“This was a great win for the Jets,” said South Georgia Technical College Jets head coach Travis Garrett. “We have battled through a lot of adversity this year. It was good to see the joy in these players’ eyes when Pat Welch made the game winning shot to put us ahead by two points with less than seven seconds remaining in the game.”
The Jets were down by six points with 1:47 seconds remaining in the game. Jalen Thomas hit a three-point shot from the corner with 1:34 on the clock to lift the Jets to within three points at 74 – 71. The Jets’ defense stopped Georgia Highlands from scoring on their next possession and Andre Kennedy went in strong under the basket for two to narrow Georgia Highland’s lead to 74 – 73 with 1:03 left in the game. The Jets defense continued to work hard and deny Georgia Highlands the opportunity to score in the entire final two-minutes.
The score was tied nine times and the lead changed 14 times during the 40-minute contest. South Georgia had a six point lead early in the first half and then Gordon came back and had a six-point lead with 1:48 left in the game. South Georgia Tech rallied to overcome that deficit and pull ahead by two points for the win.
“I am so proud of the effort that our players put up last night. This was a great win for us. We have won the last four consecutive games and five of our last six games. Our only loss in the last six games was to Gordon by the score of 75 – 63. When we pulled within one point in the final minute, I thought we were in a good position to win,” said Coach Garrett. “Andre Kennedy and Jalen Thomas had great games and gave us a lift throughout the course of the game. I told the guys at half time that we will not get another chance to achieve our goal if we can’t pull this game out. We did what we needed to do and now we look forward to playing Albany Tech Friday at 5:30 at Georgia Highlands.”
South Georgia Tech defeated Albany Tech 90 – 84 in Albany on February 25th and had beaten them in January in Americus but had to forfeit that game due to an ineligible player. The Jets are now 12 – 19 overall and finished the regular season conference play with a 5 – 11 record. Albany Tech is 6 – 10 and 12 – 19.
Sophomore forward Andre Kennedy from Albany, led the Jets in scoring with 26 points. He has 12 of 22 from the field and 2 – 2 from the foul line. He had 14 points at the end of the first half and added 12 more in the second 20-minute half. He also had nine rebounds, and two assists.
Freshman guard Jalen Thomas from Columbus was the only other Jet in double-figures. He had 17 points including two three pointers. He also had two rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Sophomore guard Pat Welch had a total of nine points on the night including the game-winning basket. He was three of 10 from the three-point line, had two rebounds and three assists. Freshman Marquel Wiggins from Macon County tossed in seven points, Bobby Jackson and Davion Clark both added six points each and then Mike Boone closed out the scoring with five points.
“I just can’t thank everyone enough for making that trip to Barnesville,” said Garrett. “The support we received last night was huge. I know my guys truly appreciated seeing the fans when they walked out on the court and it made a difference in the way they hustled.”
South Georgia Technical College fans can log in to the JockJive Sports website at: and click on the GCAA logo to go to the GCAA Sports Network Channel. The game will be live at 5:30 p.m. and the other semi-final game will start at 7:30. The finals will be broadcast at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 11th.
The South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets will be playing at home Saturday, March 11th at 2 p.m. for the NJCAA District J title and the opportunity to advance to the NJCAA National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas, March 20th – 25th. The NJCAA Men’s tournament will be held at the Hutchinson Sports Arean in Hutchinson, KS on March 20th – 25th. The winner of the NJCAA Region XVII Division I men’s tournament will get an automatic berth in the national tournament.

Andre Kennedy, 1, led the Jets in scoring with 26 points.