AMERICUS, Ga. (WALB) - The South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets turned a narrow three-point first-half lead into a rousing 87 – 59 victory over the NJCAA Region 10 champion Spartanburg Methodist Lady Pioneers in the Hangar Saturday to earn their fifth consecutive trip to the NJCAA Division I women’s national basketball tournament in Lubbock, Texas April 19th – 24th.
The Lady Jets earned a sixth-place seed in the NJCAA National Tournament and will receive a first-round bye. They will open the tournament on Wednesday, April 21st at 7 p.m. CST against the winner of the Tyler Texas and Walters State game that will play on Tuesday.
“I am really happy for our sophomores who were here last year and worked so hard to get to the national tournament but didn’t make it because of COVID-19,” said South Georgia Technical College Athletic Director and Lady Jets head coach James Frey after his team clinched their fifth straight opportunity to advance to the national tournament. “The Lady Jets have really worked hard and showed great discipline all year and now here we are celebrating our fifth conference and district win in five years and making plans for our fifth consecutive trip out to Lubbock.”
The Lady Jets have qualified for the national tournament eight times since the program started in 2004 – 2005 and have qualified seven times in nine years with Coach Frey. He has put together 20 plus winning seasons in each of his nine seasons at the helm of the Lady Jets. The only two years that the Lady Jets did not qualify for the nationals were in 2012 – 2013 in his first year as a head coach and then again in 2015 – 2016 when they lost the Region XVII tournament. The Lady Jets are 22 – 3 this season and were 13 – 2 in the GCAA.
“We started a little slow Saturday against Spartanburg Methodist but really played a fantastic second half,” said Coach Frey. “We got our perimeter shots falling and our big girls continued to improve as they have over the past few weeks. I feel like we are starting to play well at the right time.”
The Lady Jets scored first in the matchup with Spartanburg Methodist and despite jumping out to a 29 – 17 lead in the first half, there were four lead changes and two ties before the Lady Jets went into the half with a narrow 37 – 34 lead. The Lady Pioneers outscored the Lady Jets 17 – 9 to close the 28 - 17 gap from the end of the first quarter.
South Georgia Tech came back in the second half and outscored Spartanburg Methodist 23 – 10 in the third quarter and 27 – 15 in the fourth quarter to take the 87 – 59 victory and the opportunity to advance to the NJCAA women’s Division I National Tournament.
Freshman Abby Solway was the leading scorer for the Lady Jets with 17 points. She came off the bench to hit four of nine three-pointers. She was six of 12 overall from the field and one of one from the foul line. She also had a rebound, assist, and steal on the night.
Sophomore Veronica Charles and Femme Sikuzani both accounted for 13 points for the Lady Jets. Charles had four rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Sikuzani had a double-double afternoon with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Sophomore Imani McNeal scored seven points, Maikya Simmons, Moe Shida, and Hope Butera each tossed in six points, Flore Ngasamputu and Sarah Lwambo both accounted for five points and Niya McGuire had four, and Kamiya Hollingshead closed out the scoring with three points.
The Lady Jets earned a sixth-place seed in the NJCAA National Tournament with the win over Spartanburg Methodist. They are ranked behind the undefeated Jones College team that came in with the first-place ranking. Trinity Valley is second, Chipola third, South Plains fourth, Northwest Florida State is fifth followed by the Lady Jets in sixth place.
Shelton State, which SGTC beat twice during the regular season, was seeded seventh, Casper 8th, Three Rivers 9th, Wabash Valley 10th, and Tyler Texas 11th. Butler College was selected 12th and Georgia Highlands received an at-large bid for 13th. Moberly Area was seeded 14th and Gulf Coast State finished 15th. Closing out the seeds in order from 16th to 24th were: Western Nebraska, Iowa Western, Miles, Eastern Arizona, Southern Idaho, Orthro, Walters State, Independence, and Eastern Oklahoma State. The tournament opens on Monday, April 19th and the championship will be played on Saturday, April 24th.