South Gorgia Tech Coach Brandon Harrell
ALBANY — In his eight years as coach of the South Georgia Tech women’s basketball team, Brandan Harrell has never had an easy game against Darton.
And he doesn’t expect that to change when the two teams clash at 6 p.m. today in a Region XVII showdown at Darton.
“I hope our kids come out with a little extra effort tonight,” Harrell said. “This is our first big conference game of the year. All of them are big, but this is our first against one of the traditionally better teams.”
Officially, the Lady Jets are 5-6 overall and 3-0 in the region. However, without their first six games being forfeited because of an academically ineligible player on the roster, the Lady Jets would be 9-2.
Either way, they are on a five-game winning streak and ready to do battle against a Darton team that is coming off a 40-point victory against region foe Andrew College on Sunday.
And Darton coach Lea Henry, whose Lady Cavs are 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the region, said a victory tonight is critical if her team wants to compete for a Region XVII crown.
“I always tell them, if you want to contend for a conference championship, you need to win your home games,” Henry said.
Darton holds a 9-7 edge in the eight-year history of the rivalry. However, South Georgia Tech has won seven of nine games in the last four years.
“It obviously has become a big rivalry,” Henry said. “They are consistently one of the top two teams in the conference.”
In their first year under Henry, the Lady Cavs have become one of the top defensive teams in the country. They are giving up an average of 45.7 points per game, which is fifth in the NJCAA.
“They really play hard (on defense),” Harrell said. “I have seen them play a couple of times, and they are pretty aggressive. We are going to just have to handle the pressure.”
But the Lady Cavs will have their work cut out for them with South Georgia Tech sophomore Shontae McCall, who is averaging 18.8 points per game, which ranks her 13th in scoring in the NJCAA.
“She can do it all,” Henry said about McCall. “I’ve watched them play quite a bit; they’re a good team. They expect to win when they walk into a gym.”
On the other side of the court, the Lady Cavs are scoring an average of 82.3 points per game, ranking them 11th in the NJCAA. They also lead the nation in field-goal percentage (49 percent).
Freshman Michelle Mitchell, of Eastman, leads the Lady Cavs in scoring percentage, averaging 18 points per game. Freshman Chanteniece Fann, of Warner Robbins, leads the conference in field-goal percentage (65 percent), which is fourth in the nation.