Shontae McCall scored a game-high 24 points for South Georgia Tech on Friday night in an overtime win against Darton.
ALBANY -- It took five extra minutes -- five unwanted minutes -- but a win is a win in the standings.
South Georgia Tech survived a scare when its star player Shontae McCall went down with an injury only to return, hit two clutch free throws and secure a road victory for the Lady Jets, who beat Darton, 61-57, in overtime Friday night in a battle of Region XVII neighbors and rivals.
"After those two free throws we got confidence and knew that we had to step up and win the game," said McCall, who led all scorers with 24 points. "Darton came out with a fight, but we hung in there and stuck it out."
The Lady Cavaliers (5-3) had an opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation, but Michelle Mitchell's shot just inside the free throw line rimmed out, something that plagued Darton all night.
"It was the last possession and I just missed it," Mitchell said. "There's no one person to blame because it's all a team thing."
Mitchell finished with 11 points, while Chanteniece Fann and Lauren Johnson scored 18 points and 12 points, respectively, for Darton.
"That's when we had our chance to win the game," Darton coach Lea Henry said of the final minutes of regulation. "We took a good shot and it just didn't go down. I think our kids learned that we can play with the best because South Georgia Tech is a good team."
South Georgia (6-6) had the lead most of the game. The Lady Jets made it their business to attack the inside and exploit the Lady Cavaliers' interior defense. They scored most of their first half points inside the paint, forcing Darton to go to a 2-3 defense.
"I thought we did a really good job of covering their shooters because we knew they had good shooters, but we kind of left the middle open," explained Henry, who is in her first season as the Lady Cavs' head coach. "We are playing some young players so we will learn."
Darton kept the game close with second chance points and went into halftime down, 29-24. Play resumed with the teams trading baskets until McCall went down with cramps with 5:45 left in the game.
With the crowd behind them and South Georgia's star player out of the game, the Lady Cavaliers came alive, playing with more energy and confidence. They knotted the game at 41-41 one minute after McCall went out.
But she wasn't gone long.
She returned with a little more than four minutes in the game, looking to distribute the ball to her teammates.
"Our gameplan was to give (my teammate Shanique Holston) the ball," McCall said. "I wanted to win so I had to take the game over, but I also wanted to get my teammates involved."
Holston finished second in scoring with 18 points for the Lady Jets, while Samantha Phillips added eight points and Manon Cherubini chipped in seven.
The Lady Cavaliers, however, would not go away.
Darton grabbed its first lead of the game when Christina Brown drilled a 3-pointer with 2:05 left. After a couple of baskets from South Georgia Tech, she knocked down another trey that put the Lady Cavaliers up 49-47. Brown's trey marked her only points of the game.
"They have such good scorers and I knew Christina was going to hit a couple of 3s," South Georgia coach Brandan Harrell said. "It's their home floor; they're going to make a run. We knew the run was coming and we just had to sustain it."
Harrell then paused before adding: "I would have liked to have sustain it without going into overtime."
South Georgia's Inna Leja quickly tied the game, leaving Darton with 11 seconds left and a chance to win.
But when Mitchell missed the game-winning shot, the Lady Jets put the ball in McCall's hand in overtime, where she closed it out.
"She's just a gutsy player," Harrell said. "She is a big part of this team; a lot of times she can make a play from anywhere on the floor."
Darton next plays Middle Georgia Tech next on Dec. 17, while South Georgia Tech next play at Shelton State on Dec. 16.
Albany Tech women continue torrid start to season, beat Chattahoochee Tech to move to 7-0; ATC men win, too
ALBANY -- Region XVII may not have been concerned about the Albany Tech women's third-year basketball program being a real mover and shaker in the conference this season.
And that's just fine with head coach Kenneth Williams.
"I think we're probably down on the radar a bit (when it comes to other teams fearing us) right now," Williams said Friday after the Lady Titans' 76-53 rout of Chattahoochee Tech, improving their record to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in region play -- the best start in program history. "And that's OK with us. We like to be under the radar."
Perinnial region powerhouses South Georgia Tech, Darton, Middle Georgia and Georgia Perimeter had better be on the lookout, however, for the Lady Titans' Bianca Fennessee, who had another monster game Friday with 24 points and 23 rebounds. Shakima Wiggins added 23 points, followed by Shaterra Fortner with 13.
ATC returns to action Monday at West Georgia Tech.
ALBANY TECH MEN 66, CHATTAHOOCHEE TECH 58: The Titans (6-5, 3-1) won their third game in a row thanks to 28 points from former Worth County star Jamorris Gaines. Patrick Lewis added nine points, six assists and five rebounds and former Herald Player of the Year Terrance Noel of Westover also scored nine points.
ATC's next game is Dec. 17 at Lawson State in Birmingham, Ala.