Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

February 27, 2013

Lady Jets defeat Ga. Highlands in first round of NJCAA Region 18 Championship playoffs

ROME — “Our Lady Jets played with a great deal of intensity and purpose and did what they needed to do,” said South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets head basketball coach James Frey after the fifth-seeded Lady Jets overpowered the fourth ranked Georgia Highlands Lady Chargers and former Lady Jets head coach Brandon Harrell, 76–67 in the opening round of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 17 basketball championship in Rome, GA.

South Georgia Tech first year Lady Jets head coach James Frey guided his squad to a 20-11 overall record this season and moved them to 13–8 in Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association Conference play with the win over Georgia Highlands. This was the Lady Jets fifth consecutive victory and Coach Frey’s first playoff win as a head coach. Georgia Highlands was an honorable mention in the NJCAA national rankings this past week. The loss to South Georgia Tech ended their season and left them at 24–7 overall and 15–6 in the GCAA.

The Lady Jets will now advance to the semi-final round of the NJCAA Region 17 championship tournament, which will be held in Albany, Ga. at Darton College on Friday, March 1st. The Lady Jets will take on Darton State College at 5:30 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to the finals on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Albany at Darton State College.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our players,” continued Coach Frey. “I challenged them to give it all they had and not leave here with any regrets. They did that and to me this game was their biggest and best effort all season!”

The Lady Jets scored first against Georgia Highlands but the two teams battled over the lead early in the first half. Georgia Highlands managed to take the lead for about five minutes before Coach Frey went to his bench and the Lady Jets reserves gave the team a boost with several key baskets to help them to a 35–32 lead at the end of the first half.

South Georgia Tech came back in the second half and widened their lead based on a 15–4 point swing in the first eight minutes of that period. The Lady Jets pulled ahead by as many as 12 points several times in the second half before finally capturing the first round playoff contest 76–67.

Sophomore Portia McCray was the leading scorer for the Lady Jets with 21 points. Nineteen of her points came in the second half. She was followed by freshman Rasheda Patterson who added 17 points and GCAA second team All-Conference player Nikkei Blackburn who had 12 points, six rebounds and three steals.

DeKoya Mack tossed in eight points for the Lady Jets including two big three-point conversions. Courtne Washington and Shaquaya Daniels both added five points. Daniels also had 12 assists and five steals. Kadriana Howard scored four points and then Delisia Sharpe and Veda Cook closed out the scoring with two points each. Every member of the Lady Jets played and contributed to the victory.

“This was a total team effort,” said Lady Jets Coach James Frey. “However, I have to say that our defense completely shut down Georgia Highlands Manon Cherabini, a former Lady Jet, who was leading the league in three point shooting. We held her to a total of six points and no three pointers.”

In fact, the South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets dominated Georgia Highlands in every stat except rebounding. Georgia Highlands had a total of 33 rebounds while South Georgia Tech only came up with 26. “This is the first time this season that we have been out-rebounded,” said Frey, “but we did a great job of shooting the ball from the field, three point line and foul line.  This was just a great effort and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Now, the Lady Jets need to keep up that momentum as they travel to Albany on Friday, March 1st at 5:30 p.m. to take on the top-ranked team in the GCAA, the Darton State Lady Cavaliers. Darton is currently ranked 12th in the nation and is currently undefeated this season on their home court at 14–0. They also amassed the most wins in a single season this year with 26. At 7:30 p.m., the second ranked Chattahoochee Tech team will face Georgia Perimeter in the second semi-final game. The two winners will meet in the finals on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Darton.

Darton defeated the Lady Jets 52–50 in Albany in their first match-up this season and then beat them 64–44 on February 6.

The Lady Jets’ GCAA semi-final game Friday, March 1, will be broadcast live on WISK-FM. Game-time is 5:30 p.m. Fans can also go to www.americusradio.com and click on the Lady Jets logo to listen to the game live over the Internet.

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