Khiry White, a 6-foot-1 sophomore who finished the season averaging 14-7 points per game, was recently named to the Second-Team All-Region squad.
DECATUR — Looking for a Cinderella story in the Region XVII men’s basketball tournament?
Look no further than the No. 8 seed South Georgia Tech Jets, who have all the confidence they need to upset No. 1 seed Georgia Perimeter in today’s opening round of the conference tournament.
They have recent history on their side, too.
The Jets were one of just two conference teams to beat Georgia Perimeter in Decatur this season when they knocked off the Jaguars on Feb. 4, 60-58.
“Our kids think we can win,” said SGT coach Steven Wright, whose Jets won a tie-breaker with Atlanta Metro to lock up the No. 8 seed. “And that’s typically a lot of it. If you think you can win, you’ve got a shot.”
A shot is all the Jets want after their season was nearly ruined in December when they lost five players to 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 for reasons not specified by Wright. The Jets lost four in a row when they resumed play Jan. 7, and their season was on the brink of collapse.
“We were shellshocked,” Wright said. “But then we found a way to right the ship.”
Since then the Jets (14-16) have won six of their last 12 games including victories against Georgia Perimeter, No. 4 Albany Tech, No. 5 Chattahoochee Tech, No. 6 East Georgia and No. 7 Waycross.
Anything is possible from the Jets, who have drawn some strength recently from the leadership of Khiry White and Kentavius Clowers. White, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, was recently named to the Second-Team All-Region squad, and Clowers, a 6-5 freshman, was named an honorable mention. White finished the season averaging 14.7 points and 4.5 assists per game, while Clowers led the Jets and was fourth in the region with 17.1 points per game.
“The games that we have won (White) has played extremely well,” Wright said. “He has been our leader, and we count on him to do that (today).”
White and the Jets will be facing a Georgia Perimeter team led by Region XVII Player of the Year James Johnson. The Jaguars (23-7) have won four out of five since that Feb. 4 loss to South Georgia Tech, but Wright isn’t paying attention to records or seeds.
“You just have to throw the records out the window and go play,” Wright said.
The sixth-year coach for the Jets said his team needs to do three things to knock off the Jaguars: limit turnovers, limit Georgia Perimeter’s inside scoring and get contribution from his bench players.
“All three of those things are very possible and if those three things happen, then I think the results have a chance to turn out in our favor,” Wright said.
The winner of today’s 7:30 p.m. game will meet up with either Albany Tech or Chattahoochee Tech in the semifinals Friday.