ALBANY -- The Albany Tech men's basketball team led South Georgia Tech by double figures in the first half, but a late surge in the second by the Jets saw them retake the lead by four points with 2:40 left in the game.
Then, ATC's Dominique Polite took over.
Polite, who scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half, including going 8-for-10 from the free-throw line down the stretch as the Titans won, 60-58, in their Region XVII Tournament opener.
"We played it hard," Polite said. "Coach told us not to give up."
Jerry Lewis was hot in the first half for the Titans but cooled down as the game went on and finished with 13 points. The bulk of the Jets' offense came from Reakus McCrory, who led the team with 17 points -- 10 of which came in South Georgia's second-half comeback.
"The game was just like it was last time," Albany Tech coach Sylvester Patterson said of the two teams' previous meetings, which were split. "We got up and wasn't able to hold on to the lead, they kept fighting. Last time they got a couple of turnovers and got back in the game this time they got back in the game off of missed free-throws."
The Titans set the tone at the beginning of the game with an effective zone defense that gave South Georgia some problems.
"We played the zone pretty good," Polite said. "Coach gave us the perfect matchups."
After some early miscues, the Titans settled down and began to run their offense through Lewis, who was able to rack up 10 points in the first half. The Titans took their largest lead of the game (22-12) with 6:55 left in the first half.
In the second half, McCrory began his one-man onslaught and eventually brought his team even with the Titans and eventually helped the Jets take their first lead of second half, 32-30.
The two teams went back and forth until South Georgia went on a 9-0 run to capture the lead (54-52) with 2:40 left in the game.
But tith a 33 second left in the game, Romero Owens hit a floater in the middle of the lane to give the Titans a one point lead (57-56). On the ensuing Jets possession, Tyrell Johnson stole the inbound pass and as fouled. He missed both free-throws but managed to grab the offensive rebound which all but wrapped up the win for the Titans.
Albany Tech now advances to play No. 1 seed Middle Georgia on Friday in Cochran.
"Give them credit --- they did everything possible," Patterson said of the Jets. "The guys just kept fighting and we pulled it out. You always get confidence when you get that going into the next game. We play Middle Georgia, we lost against them twice so really are going to have to step up our game and do a better job on the boards and make our free throws."