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LOCAL COLLEGE ROUNDUP: ATC men's hoops nearly tops No. 1 MGC; GSW topples ASU in softball

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Most coaches don't believe in moral victories.

And Sylvester Patterson is one of those guys.

But what he will take is the drastic improvement he saw out of his team Wednesday night in a narrow, 59-54 loss to Region XVII No. 1 Middle Georgia, which is also ranked No. 9 nationally.

"The first time they beat us by 23 (points) and just dominated on the boards," Patterson said. "That didn't happen (Wednesday night). We held our own and even had a chance to win it in the final minute."

With the Titans down by two points late, Deron Blue's 3-pointer missed the mark and forced Albany Tech to foul as Middle Georgia calmly sank its free throws and sealed the win.

"We were also a lot tougher against them this time," Patterson said. "That was something I really felt we lacked last game."

As Patterson eluded to, his guys -- specifically Martavious Marc -- rose to the challenge Wednesday to not get thrown all over the glass like in the two teams' first game, which saw Middle George out-rebound ATC by 23 rebounds, as well as win by 23 points. Patterson even put his team through a series of heavy-contact drills during this week's practice to prepare them to rise to the occasion.

"It was a drill where three guys must stay in the paint and the first one who scores three points, wins," he said. "It got really physical. One guy left with a bloody lip, But in the end, it toughened us up."

In Wednesday's game -- also the Titans' regular-season finale -- Marc only scored six points, but he kept the team in the game by staying aggressive on the glass and only allowed MGC to hold the rebounding edge, 49-41.

"I told the kids before the game," Patterson began, "that if we kept their rebound edge to five, we could win.

"And we almost did."

Jerry Lewis led the Titans in scoring with 21 points, but was the only player in double figures. MGC was led by leading candidate for Region XVII Player of the Year, Marko Knight, who scored 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

"He's good," Patterson said of Knight. "Real good."

The region tournament begins next week with ATC hosting its first-ever playoff game since forming a program three years ago. That game will be played at Albany State on Tuesday against No. 5 seed South Georgia Tech, which ATC split with this season. A time has yet to be determined.

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GSW SOFTBALL TAKES DOWN ASU:

ALBANY -- Georgia Southwestern took advantage of four Albany State errors to take a 4-3 lead, and Megan Wilkinson put the game away with a two-run homer in the seventh as GSW beat Albany State, 6-3, in softball Wednesday.

GSW scored three runs in the top of third on Heather Hodge's double and three ASU errors, and then added an unearned run in the fifth to break a 3-3 tie, before Wilkinson hit her second home run of the season.

Albany State's Deanna Birdsong went 2-for-3 and doubled in two runs in the Lady Rams' three-run third, highlighted by Dominique Bryant homering in the inning for Albany State (3-4). Meredith Ashia pitched seven innings and gave up just two earned runs (both on the Wilkinson homer) on eight hits, while striking out three and walking three.

GSW's Mariko Nomura went the distance, giving up three runs on five hits, while striking out five and walking two for the Lady Hurricanes (8-9). The second game was canceled because of bad weather.

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CAVS, LADY CAVS RUNNERS NAMED NJCAA ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICANS:

The Darton College men and women's cross-country teams not only won Region XVII titles last fall, they were also were named NJCAA Academic All-America teams on Wednesday. The men's team posted a 3.45 GPA (10th nationally) and the women posted a 3.29 (18th nationally).

"This speaks volumes about the group of student-athletes I've been fortunate enough to work with this year," coach David Mann said. "Without a doubt this has been our young program's best season, and it's very gratifying to see these runners continue to be champions outside of our program and into their daily lives as Darton College students."

Although David Marley, now running at Columbus State University, earned Academic All-American honors while at Darton, this is the first time the award has been given to the team collectively since the Darton program started in 2007. This is the second time the women's team has received such honors.