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SGTC Alumni, Sophomore Day sees big turnout

AMERICUS — South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) welcomed over 500 faculty, staff, alumni, retirees, students and community members to The Hangar recently for their largest ever Alumni and Sophomore Day celebration. Attendees came out to watch an alumni basketball game featuring Jets and Lady Jets players from as far back as 2001, tailgate with fellow Jets and Lady Jets fans and watch Division I basketball games against conference rivals the Georgia Highlands College Chargers and Lady Chargers.
The day began at 10:30 a.m. with over 25 former Jets and Lady Jets players taking the court again to play against each other in a friendly co-ed matchup. The 40-minute game was coached by former Jets head coach Steven Wright and his assistant coach Douglas Byrd. The teams, split into a Red Squad and a Gray Squad, featured a broad range of players — with every year of Jets and Lady Jets Basketball being represented by at least one player. The alumni played competitively on the court — ending the game with an 84-77 score — but walked away glad for the opportunity to reconnect with each other.
Following the game, the smell of hamburgers and hotdogs on a charcoal grill pulled attendees outside to the Chamber of Commerce and Imerys sponsored tailgate. Dave Tucker of Imerys Refractory Minerals, along with his wife Kathleen, grilled over 200 hamburgers and hotdogs for fans. Sumter County Chamber of Commerce members Carolyn Wright, Rhett Simmons, Judge William Rambo and Jimmy Whaley provided the fixings and prepared plates for the attendees.
Fans filed back into the James S. Peters gymnasium just before 1 p.m. to watch the Jets and Lady Jets take on Georgia Highlands College in a double header. The Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) conference matchup pitted the first place Lady Jets against the third place Lady Chargers. The game started neck-and-neck, but the Lady Jets turned a one-point lead at the half into a 70-43 blowout.
Between games, the Jets and Lady Jets recognized and showed their appreciation for the current sophomore players and manager by presenting them with a framed collage of their time at SGTC. Women’s head coach James Frey presented seven Lady Jets players with their frame: Dakata Toney, Kayla Holmes, Esther Adenike, Houlfat Mahouchiza, Kanna Suzuki, Sceret Ethridge and Davesha Murray. Following them, Men’s head Travis Garrett presented six Jets players with frames: Mike Boone, Emeshuan Offord, Devante Foster, Rico Simmons, Marquel Wiggins, Dawan Bass, and Jets manager Wayne Bell.
Following the ceremony, the somber mood cleared and the Jets and Georgia Highlands College Chargers took the court in a high-energy, first-and-second-place conference dual. The GCAA first place Chargers went down at the half 40-38 to the second place Jets, but would battle back in the final two minutes of the game to beat Jets 82-80. The loss would drop the Jets to third place in the conference.
Despite the loss, the day was a major success, according to athletics assistant Terri Battle, who coordinated the event.
“The Jets and Lady Jets have always held a special place in my heart and it was great to see the former players who returned to The Hangar for the day’s events,” she said. “I was pleased with the overall turnout. I would like to make this an annual event and hope for an even bigger turnout next year.”