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Jets and Lady Jets sweep Central Georgia Tech in GCAA match-ups

By Su Ann Bird

 

AMERICUIS – The South Georgia Technical College Jets captured their third consecutive win of the 2020 – 2021 basketball season and second straight victory over the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division 1 17th ranked Central Georgia Technical College Titans in the Hangar Thursday night. And then earlier in the day, the Lady Jets traveled to Macon to defeat the Central Georgia Tech Lady Titans 70 – 61 to remain unbeaten on the year.

“It’s still a work in progress and to have an off game and still win against a really good team is always good,” said South Georgia Technical College Jets interim head coach Chris Ballauer, after his team managed to upset Central Georgia Tech 64 – 56 in their second head to head contest this week.  “Jalen Reynolds and Will Johnston had big games on offense and that really helped us to win.  But the defensive plays by Tabias Long, Marvin McGhee, and Jordan Stephens helped us to close the game out.  Radim Havel came off the bench and gave us some really good minutes.”

And while Chris Ballauer was praising his players for turning up the heat on offense and defense, Lady Jets head coach James Frey said his team is still struggling despite being ranked 4th in the nation and first in the GCAA with a 10 – 0 unbeaten record this season, including the 70 – 61 win over the Central Georgia Tech Lady Titans in Macon.

“We have to figure out a way to cut our turnovers in half,” said SGTC Athletic Director and Lady Jets head coach James Frey.  “The past two games we’ve really struggled with valuing the basketball.  I am trying to get our team to understand how important that is.  We also have to finish at the basket.  We missed 21 shots within six feet tonight.

“I realize it is a mental focus thing.  But we’ve got to keep working and push through this little slump we are in.  The great thing is that as bad as we’ve been, our players realize it and are working hard.  We are 10 – 0 and our goal is still in front of us.  We just have to keep working and we will,” added Frey.

Both Frey and Ballauer said that the shortened season and the restrictions brought on by COVID-19 are creating some challenges.  “Playing three games a week is a task for everyone,” said Coach Ballauer.  “We played last weekend and then played Tuesday and Thursday and will take on Andrew College here Saturday.”

The Lady Jets are also struggling because they face the same opponent three times every week.  “It is really tough to play the same team three times in six or seven days,” explained Coach Frey.  “But by doing this, we are limiting the COVID-19 exposure to just two teams each week and that makes sense for our conference.  However, it is still tough as a coach and players to face the same conference opponent three times in one week.”

Despite turning over the basketball 24 times against the Central Georgia Technical College Lady Titans, the Lady Jets were able to maintain their 1st place GCAA ranking and move to 5 – 0 in the conference and 10 – 0 overall.

Only one member of the Lady Jets scored in double-figures.  Sophomore Niya McGuire led SGTC with a double-double performance.  She had 13 points and 10 rebounds.  She led the Lady Jets in both categories.  Sophomore guards Imani McNeal and Moe Shida were the next players close to double-figures with nine points each.  McNeal had five rebounds and two assists and Shida had five assists and one steal on the night.

Sophomore forward Hope Butera closed out the night with eight points.  She also added five rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot.  Freshman guard Abby Solway and sophomore guard Veronica Charles both added six points each.  Solway also accounted for two rebounds and two assists, while Charles pulled down seven rebounds, had one assist and four steals.

Flore Ngasamputu scored four points and managed to secure four rebounds.  Jaidyn Trevino and Tena Ikidi both came away with three points and then Sarah Lwambo and Femme Sikuzani closed out the scoring with two points each.  Sikuzani had seven rebounds and three blocks.

And while the Lady Jets were finalizing their victory in Macon against the Central Georgia Tech Lady Titans, the Jets were taking care of business in the hangar in Americus.  The Jets scored first and managed to take a 29 – 23 lead into the half, but there were four lead changes and two ties in that first 20 minutes.  Six points was the Jets largest lead in that half when then went up 6 – 0 early.

In the second half, the Jets were able to stretch their lead to 14 points, 64 – 50, until Central Georgia Tech made a last minute push to cut the lead to 64 – 56.  The Jets outscored Central 35 – 33 in the second half.

Freshman point guard Will Johnson led the Jets in scoring with 21 points on the night.  He was perfect (2 for 2) from the three-point line and the foul line (3-3).  Fourteen of his points came in the second half.  He also ended the night with seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals.  Sophomore forward Jalen Reynolds also had a good night offensively.  He had 15 points and eight rebounds.

The game was a defensive struggle for the entire 40-minutes.  Sophomore guard Jordan Stephens did a good job defensively and he also put in 10 points on the night.  Freshman Marvin McGhee had five points, six rebounds, one assist and three steals.  He was followed by freshman forward Radim Haveland freshman guard Dhal Fleg who both contributed four points each and two rebounds each.  Freshman Keundre Campbell walked away with three points and then Tabais Long and Joshua Pain closed out the scoring with one point each.

Both the Jets and the Lady Jets will be back in action at home Saturday in a rare double-header this season.  The Lady Jets will face Central Georgia Tech for the third time in five days at 1 p.m. and then the Jets will host Andrew College at 4 p.m.  Both of these are GCAA conference match-ups and both the Jets and the Lady Jets are currently in or tied for first place in the conference.

The Jets will host Georgia Highlands on Thursday, February 18th at 7 p.m. and then travel to Rome for a rematch on Saturday, February 20th.  The Lady Jets have a week off but will host Wallace State Community College on Tuesday, February 23rd at 5 p.m. and then travel to Wallace State Community College on Saturday, February 27th for a rematch at 2 p.m.