Khiry White is the lone player back from last year’s South Georgia Tech team, but he will surrounded by several transfers, including former Florida A&M player Phillip Flowers.
AMERICUS — The final minutes of games were the telltale to the Jets’ season last year.
They were 8-7 in games decided in the final possessions, and that resulted in South Georgia Tech finishing fifth in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association.
But with all the new faces on the roster, coach Steven Wright hopes some of those losses will go their way this year.
“We missed a lot of plays within six to eight feet of the rim,” Wright said. “I thought we played a lot of possessions below the rim, and in order to finish some of those plays, we’ve got to be above the rim. We addressed those issues with more athletes, better athletes, and hopefully we’ll be able to finish.
“We lost some pretty decent players, and we also lost some marginal athletes. Hopefully we can make two or three buckets more this year and maybe prevent two or three buckets.”
Only sophomore guard Khiry White is back from last year’s team that finished 21-10. Wright has added five players 6-foot-4 or taller, and two had Division-I talent. Along with White (who started at Alabama A&M), Dante Gastin (NE Macon) got looks from Mississippi State and Wichita State, and Phillip Flowers (NE Macon) started his career at Florida A&M before going to Brevard and now here.
Jets open up season with 113-76 victory
AMERICUS — South Georgia Tech scored early and often as the Jets cruised to a 113-76 win against Sound Doctrine on Saturday at The Hangar.
Kentavious Clowers had a double-double of 23 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots in 20 minutes of action as the Jets shot better than 51 percent from the floor.
Clowers did most of his damage in the first half, having 20 and 10 12-plus minutes. He finished 11 of 14 from the floor. B.J. Davis had 15 points off five 3-pointers, and Khiry White added 13. Phillip Flowers scored 11, and Ted Holsey and Javonis May each had 10.
The Jets had 25 assists on 44 field goals, and they made 10 of 26 3-pointers as a team, good for 39 percent.
SGTC led 61-32 at the half and by as many as 37 in the second half.
Sound Doctrine made up for shooting 28 percent from the floor by making 30 of 50 free throws.
“I just think across the board, we’re better athletically,” Wright said. “We do have a couple of better shooters maybe than last year. We have several guys that can make perimeter shots. I think we’ll be able to finish better, and I think it will help us with on-ball defense.”
Point guard Demario Fountain went on to Lynn University, and Wright will be looking to Joey Imuzai (Stone Mountain) and Ted Holsey (Monroe) to fill his spot; Duke Page (Pine Forest) could also see valuable minutes.
And after losing their top two rebounders, 6-foot-9 Tevin Welcome (Lake Weir, Fla.) and 6-7 Thomas Benson (Windsor Forest), along with 6-5 Desmond Henderson (Eufaula, Ala.) are expected to play a role in the paint.
But how successful all the new players can be is still yet to be seen, said Wright.
“I think we have quite a few guys that have bought into what we’re trying to do,” he said. “I feel like our first six or seven are on board, and we’re still looking for a couple others to get on board as well from a defensive standpoint.”
Flowers — who played behind guards that went on to LSU and Arizona State at Brevard — and Kentavious Clowers (Berrien County) could put up 20 points on a given night, as could White and shooter B.J. Davis (Cleveland, Tenn.). Wright said Imuzai already has the confidence from his teammates in running the point, and White has tried to lead since he’s the only returner.
The Jets were picked third in the GCAA preseason coaches poll behind Georgia Perimeter and Atlanta Metro, but there’s still plenty of questions to answer going into the team’s first game against Sound Doctrine on Saturday.
“I definitely do not think we’ll be better at rebounding — we’re going to struggle rebounding again unless some of those guys come along,” Wright said. “I also think we can be better defensively.
“We’ve got to stay healthy. We can’t afford to lose a couple of key guys. I’m not sure how deep we are right now. We need to get another piece or two of the puzzle. To compete, you’ve got to have eight or nine pretty strong ones. I guess the next couple of weeks and seeing how the guys unfold could be huge — we could be very good, but if not, who knows?”