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Lady Jets' Harrell named region's coach of the year

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

AMERICUS -- South Georgia Tech women's coach Brandan Harrell and Lady Jets sophomore Deatric Smith were honored Sunday by the NJCAA Region XVII as the Women's Coach and Player of the Year.

Darton's Dominique Gilbert joined Smith on the All-Region's First Team. Therefore, Gilbert and Smith are also eligible for All-America honors since they were among the top three All-Region player selections voted on by coaches Sunday.

Harrell was also named the region's Coach of the Year two seasons ago.

"It's a pretty neat deal just to have the respect of the coaches, that means a lot," said Harrell, whose team is 25-5. "They apparently thought I've done a pretty decent job. It's good to get appreciation and respect from your peers. I think this is just an honor that they thought about me that much to vote me in."

Smith is averaging 17.5 points and eight rebounds. In a two year period Smith has totaled over 800 points.

"She's been an extremely important part of our program," said Harrell. "She was named to the First Team last year and has had a fantastic sophomore year. She's probably worked harder this year than she has in her whole life."

Gilbert, who once earned NJCAA National Women's Player of the Week honors this season, averages 16 points,13 rebounds and two blocks. She also finished the season with 19 double doubles and set all the program's scoring records.

"We're really tickled for her," Blackwell said."She's the kind of player that, as a coach, you want to coach. She's a dominating force inside and one who can take her game to the next level."

The Lady Jets' Monique Willis and Ophelia McMath were named to the Second Team.

The women's tourney, which is today-Thursday at South Georgia Tech, announced its bracket after a coin flip settled a tie atop the standings between South Georgia Tech and defending tournament champion Middle Georgia. The Lady Warriors won the coin toss and receive a first-round bye. South Georgia Tech, as a result, plays Andrew at 8 p.m. today. Darton opens the tournament today at 4 p.m. against Atlanta Metro, followed by Albany Tech-Georgia Perimeter at 6.

Semifinals start at 6 p.m. Wednesday and the title game is 6 p.m. Thursday.

The men's tourney is March 5-6 at Middle Georgia.