South Georgia Tech’s Shanique Holston, left, puts up a shot over Albany Tech’s Shakima Wiggins during the second half of the Lady Jets’ 72-45 rout of the Lady Titans on Wednesday to remain unbeaten in Region XVII. Holston had a huge game, scoring 15 points and pulling down 10 boards. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — It wasn’t just that the South Georgia Tech women shut down Albany Tech in the second half of Wednesday’s Region XVII game.
It was how the Lady Jets shut down the Lady Titans.
South Georgia Tech outscored the Lady Titans by 24 points in the final 15 minutes to turn a close game into a 72-45 blowout.
The Lady Jets, who are 14-8 overall and 10-0 in region play, have felt little resistance from region opponents this season and flexed their muscles again against Albany Tech (13-8, 5-5). But South Georgia Tech coach Brandan Harrell, whose Lady Jets have now beaten every team in the region at least once, knows that as his team’s winning streak grows, so does the pressure.
“Now we have the bullseye. We are the ones playing with the pressure,” Harrell said. “Somebody is going to step up and get us. This league is too tough. It would be almost an impossibility for us to go through this thing undefeated.”
On Wednesday, the Lady Jets looked like they were fully capable of pulling off the impossible.
South Georgia Tech had four players score in double figures — Sam Phillips and Manon Cherubini each led the Lady Jets with 17, and Shanique Holston and Shontae McCall scored 15 and 12, respectively. The Lady Jets shot 43 percent from the field, nailed 11-of-20 3-pointers and outrebounded Albany Tech, 48-38. But more impressive than anything, South Georgia Tech didn’t back down from an Albany Tech team that went toe-to-toe with them for the first 24 minutes of the game.
Albany Tech’s Shakima Wiggins nailed a 3-pointer with 16:20 left in the second half to pull the Lady Titans to within three points, but the Lady Jets responded with a staggering 38-14 run to cruise to their seventh win in a row.
“The first half we didn’t come out with any emotion,” said Phillips, who also added eight rebounds and three assists. “At halftime, coach told us to step it up and give it all we’ve got, like it’s the championship game.”
While the Lady Jets took care of business on offense in the second half, they also stopped Albany Tech’s biggest weapon — sophomore Bianca Fennessee.
Fennessee had 15 points and was 7-for-11 from the field in the first half, but the 6-foot-2 center was virtually a non-factor in the second half. She finished the game with 19 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.
“That was a big part of (the gameplan),” Harrell said about stopping Fennessee. “We stunk it up in the first half. Anete Erdmane, who isn’t going to get a lot of credit on the stat sheet, came in and did a fantastic job.”
Fennessee didn’t necessarily think it was anything that South Georgia Tech’s defense was doing in the second half. She said her team simply quit in the second half.
“I feel like my team gave up on me,” said Fennessee, who scored 15 of her team’s first 20 points. “We were trying to work through it because we were only down by six points (at halftime). We were playing the top team in the conference and only down by six points. They hit consecutive shots, and then we just gave up.”
And her coach agreed.
“We could be down 10, 15 points and I still think we could win. I need to instill that attitude into them,” Albany Tech coach Kenneth Williams said. “I think they got deflated, but that’s no reason to give up. Honestly, (South Georgia Tech) just played harder (Wednesday) than we did.”
The Lady Jets have been making a habit of that lately. They started the season 4-2 but then had to forfeit their first six games because of an ineligible player. Since then, they have been nearly unstoppable.
South Georgia Tech has won 13 of 15 with its only two losses coming to a pair of nationally ranked teams — No. 5 Northwest Florida State and No. 12 Shelton State.
The Lady Jets have eight region games left before the region tournament starts Feb. 22, and Harrell expects each of the remaining regular-season games to be a battle.
“There are two or three more likely losses waiting in our schedule,” Harrell said. “We play some quality teams. People are going to game plan for us a little different. They are probably going to circle us on the schedule two times.”
One of those remaining region games is a Feb. 9 rematch with Albany Tech in Americus.
“We get another shot, another chance,” Fennessee said.
SGTC MEN 56, ALBANY TECH 47: It’s been a rough month for the South Georgia Tech men’s basketball team, but Wednesday night’s comeback victory against Albany Tech (11-11, 5-5) was another step in the right direction.
The Jets (10-10, 3-5) went on a 20-2 run midway through the second half to win their second game in a row after losing four straight after the Christmas break. During that break, the team’s roster was cut from 14 to nine after some off-the-court issues. Part-time starters Tevin Welcome and Dante Gastin were let go from the team because of grades, and the other three were dismissed from the team because of issues coach Steven Wright wouldn’t discuss Wednesday.
“We don’t cry over spilt milk,” Wright said about his team not dwelling on the past. “These guys are trying to learn how to bring it every day, and they are doing the things that I ask of them.”
From the bench during Wednesday’s game, Wright was asking his players to compete and play with heart. The Jets trailed by seven at the half and used that heart to fight back and take control of the game.
“We talked about competing and playing hard, possession-in and possession-out,” Wright said. “They say offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. And that’s what we are trying to get better in. I am very proud of our guys. Very proud.”
Freshman Tae Clowers scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Jets, while B.J. Davis scored 14 points, Khiry White had 10 points and Phillip Flowers had four points and 16 rebounds.
Albany Tech coach Sylvester Patterson, meanwhile, wasn’t nearly as happy with his team’s effort.
“Basically you saw all the bad things (Wednesday night),” he said. “There was a lot of selfish play, a lot of people were upset because they weren’t getting the ball. Some people didn’t come ready to play and didn’t give effort. I just think it was terrible. It’s the worst game since I’ve been here. The worst effort I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
Former Westover star Terrance Noel led the Titans with 14 points, while former Worth County star Jamorris Gaines added 13 points.