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REGION XVII TOURNAMENT ROUNDUP: Darton, South Georgia Tech women cruise in opener; Albany Tech eliminated

Darton’s Michelle Mitchell (21) shoots over the Central Georgia Tech defense Tuesday. Mitchell led the Lady Cavs with 25 points. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

Darton’s Michelle Mitchell (21) shoots over the Central Georgia Tech defense Tuesday. Mitchell led the Lady Cavs with 25 points. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

ALBANY — Central Georgia Tech had to pay the piper Tuesday for every second-chance opportunity it gave Darton College.

The Lady Cavaliers took control of the paint early and overcame a poor-shooting first half to pull away, 65-41, against the Lady Cougars in the first round of the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association Region XVII Tournament.

Darton, the Region XVII No. 2 seed, moves on to Friday’s GCAA semifinals in Savannah where the Lady Cavs will face No. 3 seed Georgia Perimeter, which hammered No. 6 seed Albany Tech on Tuesday, 72-46. Darton split with Georgia Perimeter during the regular season. Game time is 7 p.m.

Albany Tech out; No. 1 seed SGT moves on

CLARKSTON — The Albany Tech women’s third season in school history came to an end Tuesday night after a 72-46 loss to Georgia Perimeter in the first round of the Region XVII Tournament.

“I think our (lack of) guard play caught up with us,” ATC coach Kenneth Williams said. “We’ll just hit the recruiting trail hard from here and try to bring in some more players for next year.”

ATC finishes the season 16-14, slightly down from last season’s program-best mark of 20-12.

Shakima Wiggins, one of three sophomore starters the Lady Titans will lose, led the way Tuesday with 12 points and six rebounds, while Keondra Greer added 11 in the loss. Albany Tech loses starters Wiggins, Biance Fennessee and Nicole Walden, as well as role player Shantera Fortner.

SGT WOMEN 68, CHATTAHOOCHEE TECH 47: The No. 1 seed Lady Jets rolled to the Final Four on Tuesday and will now play Middle Georgia on Friday at 5 p.m. at Armstrong Atlantic University.

Shontae McCall led the way with 18 points, while Anete Erdmane added 11.

The Lady Jets swept Middle Georgia during the regular season to finish 18-0 in Region XVII play and post the school’s first perfect region season ever.

— Staff reports

The Lady Cavs (20-7) outrebounded CGTC, 55-34, and got a monster night from Michelle Mitchell, who scored 25 points to go with 10 boards and five assists.

“When you give a good team more than one opportunity, they’re going to make you pay,” Lady Cougars’ head coach Fala Bullock said.

And, boy, did Darton make CGTC pay in the second half. The Lady Cavs shot 51 percent from the floor after leading just 23-22 at halftime.

“We felt like (rebounding) was the key to the game because the first game when we only beat them by one (60-59) they outrebounded us,” Darton head coach Lea Henry said. “We came into (this game) knowing that would be a very important stat. We talked at halftime about ball movement and being more aggressive. I thought the second half they made better decisions.”

The Lady Cavs, leading 41-34 with 9:28 to play, went on a 17-3 run in a seven-minute span. All but two of the 17 points were scored by Jo Jo Smalls and former Brookwood star Lauren Johnson. Smalls, who played just three minutes in the first half, scored six of her 10 points during the run to help ignite the second-half rout.

“The past three weeks she’s been tremendous for us off the bench,” Henry said of Smalls, who added eight rebounds. “That’s the best I’ve seen her play.”

Johnson added 16 points and eight rebounds for Darton, which has gone 13-2 down the stretch and into the conference tournament. After an ice-cold opening half Tuesday, the Lady Cavs righted the ship right into the semifinals at Atlantic Armstrong State University.

“I don’t know if we didn’t come out focused or what, but we had to get right,” said Mitchell, who finished two points shy of her season-high point total. “We just played a little smarter (in the second half).”

For Henry, in her first year at the helm, it was another signature win on a night when the Lady Cavs’ sophomores were honored one final time on their home court.

“We wanted our 20th win and we wanted to have a good night for the sophomores (playing their final game at home),” Henry said. “And we wanted to advance. There was a lot on the line.”

Darton dominated the first half everywhere but the scoreboard because of a 24 percent shooting clip from the floor. The Lady Cavs destroyed CGTC on the boards, 24-13, but it didn’t show at the break. Mitchell, who scored 12 in the first half to go along with six rebounds, hit a jumper with four seconds left in the first to give Darton a 23-22 hafltime lead.

The Lady Cavs led by as many as five in the opening 20 minutes, that lead coming after Johnson cruised in for an uncontested layup to put her team ahead 20-15 at the 3:38 mark of the first.

The Lady Cougars hit four 3s to stay close but still went 5:16 without a basket before Destiny David hit her second three in the first half to close the gap to 21-20. David led CGTC (14-15) with 17 points, the only Lady Cougar to score in double figures.

“Darton just plays so hard,” Bullock said. “Coach Henry has them playing the way she wants. That’s going to be a great matchup down in Savannah.”