South Georgia Tech men flying high right along with Lady Jets

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

AMERICUS -- Solid mechanics, speed and communication.

Those are three of the biggest factors for a successful aircraft takeoff and, ironically, three of the biggest reasons the South Georgia Tech men's basketball team is flying high this year.

The Jets are 12-2 overall, co-leaders in GJCAA Region XVII at 2-0 and outscoring opponents by 13.6 points per game.

And the best part? They're having fun doing it.

"I think if there's one thing to point to early, it's team chemistry," said fifth-year SGTC head coach Steven Wright, whose teams was 14-16 last year. "These guys really like each other on and off the floor, and I'm not sure last year's team really did. That's one huge difference. A smaller difference is that we haven't quite played some opponents we played last year at this time. But the one key factor is (everybody getting along)."

Everybody gets along, but everybody also contributes. Speedy sophomore guard Demario Fountain is among the GCAA leaders with his 16.1 points per game (No. 8), 4.0 assists (No. 5) and 3.2 steals (No. 2), while freshman forward Morris Mitchell has a solid average of 13 points and 8 rebounds per contest. Add French freshman forward Vincent Cornu -- who had 16 points and 10 rebounds in his fifth game of the season in Wednesday's 93-63 win against Middle Georgia Tech -- to the mix, and it's easy to see why the Jets are optimistic about repeating the 2008-09 team's GJCAA championship run.

"I think early on, we compared this team to the one two years ago that won it all," said Wright, who was named GJCAA Coach of the Year that season after his team went 28-8 and advanced to the Elite Eight at nationals. "We have just as good talent or personnel, and a lot of weapons. I think Demario and Morris over the course of the first 14 games have stood out the most.

"As for the other guys, (it varies who) will step up. The supporting cast will be different every night, (but) we'll always get good production."

Wednesday's win is a perfect example of that. Fountain (16 points) and Mitchell (12) were solid as usual, but Cornu added his 16 while freshman guard Khiry White (12) and freshman forward David Wagner (10) also reached double digits.

"Barring injuries, I think we (can get back to the GJCAA championship)," said Wright, whose team averages 76.9 points on offense and gives up 63.3 on defense. "If we lose any of those key players, it will be tough. But we certainly have the necessary tools to get the job. We'll just have to catch some breaks."

They'll also have to get past some of the other tough teams in the conference, like Albany Tech (11-1 overall), the College of Coastal Georgia (10-3 overall, 2-0 in region) and Georgia Perimeter (10-5, 1-1).

"Albany Tech is very good," Wright said. "And if you look at tradition, the conference championship always goes through Perimeter. If you look at the last 10 years, they've won it six or seven times, so you have to give them a nod.

"I also think Waycross (10-2, 1-1) and Coastal are very good, so there are four or five teams (that can contend). I don't think there's anybody in our league way better than the other teams, but those four will bring the toughest opposition."

Yes, the turbulence will only get rougher from here on out for the Jets -- starting Saturday against conference foe Atlanta Metro (8-2) at 4 p.m. -- but Wright is confident his crew won't fall back to the ground any time soon.