SGTC Lady Jets win NJCAA Region XVII tournament for 4th consecutive year
The nationally ranked South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets defeated Brandon Harrell and the Georgia Highlands Lady Chargers 69 – 63 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XVII Tournament finals Saturday to capture their fourth consecutive NJCAA Region XVII title. That win gives the Lady Jets the opportunity to travel to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to face Spartanburg Methodist College in the NJCAA District J game on Saturday, March 7th at 1 p.m. and possibly return to the NJCAA national tournament for the fourth consecutive time and sixth time in seven years.
For the second time this season in match-ups with Georgia Highlands, the Lady Jets got behind by 22 points before staging a comeback and capturing the win. Georgia Highlands was ahead 41 – 19 in the second quarter and went into the half enjoying a 47 – 29 lead. The Lady Jets overcame that 22-point deficit with a 28-point swing in a little over 20-minutes to remain unbeaten against conference opponents for the second straight season. The Lady Jets were 18 – 0 in 2018 – 2019 and 20 – 0 following the NJCAA Region XVII tournament. This year the Lady Jets went 17 – 0 in the regular season conference schedule and added two more wins to move to 19 – 0 this season against conference opponents.
Georgia Highlands and South Georgia Technical College have met four times in the NJCAA Region XVII tournament finals over the last seven years. South Georgia Tech won three of those and Georgia Highlands was the victor in 2015 – 2016 when they snatched a last second 65 – 63 win away from the Lady Jets.
“I am so proud of these young ladies,” said South Georgia Technical College Athletic Director and Lady Jets head coach James Frey after his team took the win over Georgia Highlands. “Our sophomores have not lost a conference game during their entire time at South Georgia Technical College and that is milestone. I am so proud of them for not giving up and for battling back against Georgia Highlands. I was not happy we got down by 22 but it says something about a team that doesn’t give up. They just refused to lose and I like that.”
Coach Frey added that “this is what we have worked for over the past seven months. We had a goal to win the GCAA regular season conference title, host this tournament, win this tournament, advance to the NJCAA District J playoff game and head back to the National Tournament. We have one more game between us and returning to the National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas for the fourth year in a row,” said Frey.
As the NJCAA Region XVII District winners, the South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets will travel to Spartanburg, South Carolina to face Spartanburg Methodist, the winners from the NJCAA Region X, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 7th. Spartanburg Methodist was the top ranked team in Region 10 and they defeated Caldwell Tech 103 – 64 in their tournament. Spartanburg Methodist finished the regular season with a 20 – 7 record.
The Lady Jets hosted Spartanburg Methodist in the District J championship game last season and was able to post an impressive 100 – 51 win and advance to the National Tournament. The two teams met earlier this season in the SGTC Thanksgiving Classic. South Georgia Tech managed to take the win 77 – 57 in that match-up
“We have to continue to play hard each and every game. We are at the point in the season where you win or you go home,” said Frey. “Spartanburg Methodist has been working all season just like we have and the team that executes Saturday is the team that advances to the National Tournament. We want to be that team.”
A win Saturday would give the Lady Jets their first fourth consecutive trip to the national tournament in the history of the men’s or ladies’ basketball program at South Georgia Technical College.
The scoring in the Region XVII championship game was pretty evenly spread out for the Lady Jets. Four sophomores and starting freshman center Femme Sikuzani were all in double-figures. Sophomore forward Yasriyyah Wazeerud-Din led the team in scoring with a total of 14 points, 11 of which came in the second half. She was followed by sophomore guard and GCAA Player of the year Shamari Tyson, sophomore guard Niya Goudelock and freshman center Femme Sikuzani who each had 12 points. The only other Lady Jet in double figures was sophomore Anna McKendree with 10 points.
Tyson made three of four free throws in the last 10 seconds to clinch the win for the Lady Jets. Niya Goudelock made two points with 1:31 left in the game to put the Lady Jets up 66 – 63. The last three points by Tyson allowed the Lady Jets to take 69 – 63 victory.
The Lady Jets held Georgia Highlands to only 16 points in the second half after allowing them to outscore them 47 – 29 in the first half. Freshman Veronica Charles had five points and they all came late in the second half to allow the Lady Jets to go into the half down by 18 points. The only other Lady Jet to score was Oumy Gueye and she had a total of four points on the night.
The win moved the Lady Jets to 21 – 0 in the GCAA and 29 – 2 overall. The best record in the history of the Jets or Lady Jets program is 30 – 4 and it was set last year. Prior to that the best record was 30 – 5 and it was originally set by the Lady Jets in 2013 – 2014 and tied again by the Lady Jets in 2016 – 2017.
GCAA Commissioner David Elder presented the South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets with the NJCAA Region XVII tournament trophy and Georgia Highlands with the runner-up trophy. He also presented Lady Jets head coach James Frey with the GCAA Coach of the Year honors. This was the sixth time in eight years that Frey has earned the honor. Elder also presented the GCAA Player of the Year honors to Lady Jets Shamari Tyson.