SGTC’s Lady Jets ranked 5th in nation in NJCAA preseason poll
Published 4:58 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022
From Staff Reports
AMERICUS – The South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets were ranked 5th in the nation in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) 2022 – 2023 Division I Women’s basketball poll released recently and the SGTC Jets received votes to be included in the NJCAA 2022- 2023 Division I Men’s basketball poll.
Both the Jets and the Lady Jets advanced to their respective NJAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas and Lubbock, Texas last season with the Lady Jets finishing among the top 16 teams in the nation while the Jets were among the top 24 teams nationally and were the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association and NJCAA Southeast region champions.
Fans can get a preview of the 2022-2023 Lady Jets in a scrimmage game in the Hangar on Tuesday, October 25th. The Lady Jets will host Albany State University in a scrimmage beginning at 6 p.m. The Jets will open the new season at home on November 1, 2022 against Gulf Coast State College at 7 p.m. in the Hangar. The Lady Jets first regular season home game this season will be on November 9th at 5:30 p.m. against Central Georgia Technical College.
“Obviously being ranked pretty high pre-season speaks volumes about last year’s team and the eight young ladies we return from that team,” said South Georgia Technical College Athletic Director and Lady Jets head coach James Frey. “I have extremely high expectations for this team, but making them understand what is necessary to maintain the ranking and build on it has been a challenge. We are still trying to get them to understand what real work ethic is about. I am confident we will get there.”
South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford agreed with Coach Frey and stated, “we appreciate the respect that the NJCAA has for our program, players, and coaching staff to put us in the top five nationally in the preseason poll for the Lady Jets and for the Jets to receive votes in the men’s preseason poll. However, we need to build on that respect by performing in the classroom as well as on the court.”
Tyler, the defending national champions, were ranked 1st nationally in the women’s poll followed by powerhouses Shelton State, Trinity Valley, Northwest Florida State and South Georgia Technical College to round out the top five. Blinn, Jones, South Plains, Hutchinson, and College of Southern Idaho closed out the sixth through 10th spots. South Georgia Tech was the only Georgia team included in the rankings.
The Lady Jets earned their sixth consecutive trip to the NJCAA National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas in 2022 with an at-large bid after falling to Georgia Highlands in the GCAA Championship playoffs. The Lady Jets brought a 26 -6 record into the national tournament where they defeated Monroe 77 – 22 and set a new NJCAA Tournament record for the fewest points allowed at the national tournament before losing to Arizona Western and finishing in the Sweet Sixteen with a final 27 – 7 overall record.
The Lady Jets have eight players returning from the 2021 squad including 5’ 11’ sophomore forward Alexia Dizeko from Sion, Switzerland and 6’ 1” sophomore center Fanta Gassama from Mataro, Spain, who both started for the Lady Jets as freshmen.
The other returners include: Luana Leite, guard from Sao Paola, Brazil; 5’ 10” guard Loes Rozing from Hiloo, Netherlands; 5’ 11” forward Susanna Yepes from Medellin, Columbia; 6’ 4” center Mame Thiaw from Dakar, Senegal; 5’ 7” guard Laurie Calixte from Quebec, Canada; and 6’ 2” forward Camryn Jones from Macon, Georgia.
Joining the team for the first time this season include: 5’ 6” freshman guard Isabel de Souza Buena from San Paolo, Brazil; 5’ 3” sophomore point guard Da”nae Williams from Pearland, TX; 5’ 6” freshman guard Veronika Palfi from Pecs, Hungary; 5’ 9” guard Vera Gunaydin from Ankara, Turkey; and 6’ 1” freshman center Maeve Fotsa Fofou from Quebec, Canada.
Coach Frey led the Lady Jets to the National Tournament in his second season at the helm of the Lady Jets in 2013 – 2014 and then took them again in 2014 – 2015. That year, they posted their first win at the national tournament and finished in the top 16 teams in the nation. The Lady Jets fell one game shy of advancing to the national tournament in 2015 – 2016, but have qualified for the national tournament for the past six years. The Lady Jets are hoping to win their 9th conference championship and earn their 10th berth to the National Tournament as well as 7th consecutive berth in the last eight years.
Following the October 25th match-ups, the Lady Jets will face Central Georgia Tech at home on November 9th at 5:30 p.m. and then Andrew College at 1 p.m. on November 12th. They will host the Pet Arrington Thanksgiving Classic against Denmark Tech and Indian River Community College on November 25th and 26th in the Hangar. Visit https://www.southgatech.edu/athletics/lady-jets-basketball/lady-jets-schedule/ for the Lady Jets complete schedule.
And while the Jets did not crack the Top 25 in the NJCAA Pre-season rankings, they did receive votes to be included after trip to the national tournament last season and their conference championship under first year head coach Chris Ballauer.
The top team in the NJCAA men’s poll was Northwest Florida State followed by Florida Southwestern, Indian Hills, Kilgore and Salt Lake. Odessa, Triton, Howard, Chipola, and Pearl River and Tallahassee rounded out the top 10 spots. Pearl River and Tallahassee were tied for 10th.
“Receiving votes in the pre-season national poll is quite an honor,” said Jets men’s basketball coach Chris Ballauer. “We had a great group of guys last season that took us to the national tournament. This year, we only have three players returning so it will be a rebuilding year.”
Despite feeling like he is in rebuilding mode; the Jets did receive the top ranking in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) pre-season poll. Returning from last season are: 6’3” sophomore guard Kallin Fonsecca from Breaux Bridge, LA; 6’ 7” sophomore forward Bryce Turner from Jacksonville, FL; and 6’ 8” sophomore forward Nathan Wilson.
Joining the team this season are: 6’ 0” freshman guard Tim Loud from Winder, GA; 6’ 0” sophomore guard Jordan Brown from Albany, GA; 6’ 2” sophomore Semaj Henderson from Chicago, Il; 6’ 8” freshman forward Ryan Djoussa from Dublin, Ireland; 6’ 4” sophomore guard Aaron Pitts from Columbus, GA; 6’ 6” freshman guard Deonte Williams from Sydney, Australia; 6’ 10” sophomore forward Sammy Mike from Warner Robins; 6’ 1” freshman guard Justin Evans from Covington, GA; 6’ 11” freshman forward Noah Barnett from Adelaide, Australia; 5’ 11” freshman guard Abraham Garjah from Jacksonville, FL; 6’ 0” freshman guard Tyren LeBeauf from Bouttee, LA; and 6’ 3” freshman guard Semad Wazeerud-Din from Atlanta, GA.
The Jets finished the 2021 – 2022 season with a 22 – 12 record, a second-place finish in the GCAA regular season and won the GCAA tournament championship title as well as the NJCAA Southeast District title for Region XVII. They advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament as the 19th best team in the nation. It was the third trip in the 20-year history of the Jets program. They have won the conference championship four times.
The Jets open the season at home on November 1st at 7 p.m. against Gulf Coast State College and then host Franklin Prep at 7 p.m. on November 8th. They will host the Jets Classic on November 11th and 12th and face Eastern Florida State College and Chattahoochee Valley Community College. Their last home game in November will be on November 29th at 7:30 p.m. against Chipola.
For a complete Jets schedule visit the SGTC website: https://www.southgatech.edu/athletics/jets-basketball/jets-schedule/.