“I felt so good inside when it happened. Felt like I was going to explode,” said Georgia Northwestern freshman Ty Bonds (Southeast Whitfield) whose steal in the final three seconds sealed the win the Bobcats had been fighting for over the past three weeks.
Freshman Bobcat Ben Patton (Dade County) locked in for five three-pointers and went four-of-four from the free throw line in Georgia Northwestern’s dramatic final seconds win at home over Hiwassee College JV, 80-76. And just like that, the seven-game losing skid was over.
Hiwassee College’s Keith Mack hit a three-point with 25 seconds left in the game to knot things up at 76-all. “I knew after that we would have the ball with the shot clock off and we could hold it for the last shot,” said Bobcat freshman Matt Woods.
With five seconds left, Woods would turn to Bobcat co-captain Kyle Wilson (Armuchee). “So I held out to get the last look and looked to Kyle (Wilson),” said Woods. “He gave me a signal to go back door. So, I dribbled to him as if to bail him out and he snuck down the baseline. I hit him and he knocked down a huge lay-up. It feels great to get a win for our team because we’ve had so many close games.”
Wilson had missed the team's last game, a three-point overtime loss at Southern Crescent Tech in Griffin, Ga., last Friday night. “I was out with the flu,” said Wilson. “I came into the game tonight feeling about sixty-percent.” They couldn’t tell at the scorer’s table as the recovering patient managed to drain 18 points, hit a pair of three-pointers, and go four-of-five from the free throw line.
Free-throw shooting played a huge role in the win at the Rossville Athletic Complex on Tuesday night. The Cats went 18-of-21 from the charity stripe. Georgia Northwestern (4-14, 0-8) as a team this season has only shot 61-percent from the line. Tonight’s percentage: 86-percent. “I thought it was going to slip away when they were up by six late,” said Bobcat sophomore co-captain Jesse Moore (Dade County). “But I knew we were going to pull through when the free throws started falling for us.”
With just over two minutes remaining, Moore drew a foul earning him a pair of free throws. Tempers got the best of the Hiwassee squad as the leading scorer for the Tigers Zach Williams would be called for a technical foul. Moore would hit his free shots. Then, Patton sank the technical free throws. “We’ve been doing a lot better with free throws,” said Moore. “We drill for it in practice extremely hard. You miss practice free throws and only one thing happens. Running.”
GNTC’s last win came at Clayton State on Jan. 21, 59-53. “It feels so, so good,” said Bobcat freshman forward Steven Ware (Heritage-Catoosa.) “We have been working really hard to get a win. A lot of people played their best tonight and we had legs to finish out the game.”
Running less than they did in their last meeting in November helped control the tempo tonight. Just three months ago, Hiwassee hosted the Bobcats to a high-scoring affair in Madisonville, Tennessee as the Tigers JV’ers beat Georgia Northwestern 122-105.
“It’s the only time in my 20-plus years of coaching a team of mine put up over 100 points and lost,” said Georgia Northwestern Head Men’s Basketball Coach David Stephenson.
“With only seven players remaining on the roster in this second half of the season, we’ve been forced to really play a more disciplined, half-court style offense,” said
Stephenson. “When they play it like they did tonight, they’ll be able to beat almost anyone on the schedule.” When the buzzer sounded tonight, you could visually see Stephenson shaking his shoulder back and forth as the imaginary monkey jumped off his back.
“It’s like a 500-pound gorilla sitting on you when you fight like we have these past six weeks,” said Stephenson. As he congratulated his team which he has dubbed ‘The Magnificent Seven’, it was emotional. “I truly fought back tears. These guys have matured to a level on and off the court these past few months unlike any other team I’ve coached.” The “Seven” wore new warm-up shirts into the game tonight stating simply on the back, “The Magnificent Seven.”
Cathy Stephenson, wife of Georgia Northwestern’s coach and Bobcat scorekeeper, said that her family may have started a new tradition for the Bobcats. “We have our new baby daughter, Jocelyn with us tonight and everyone on the team gave her a high-five,” said Mrs. Stephenson. “So, we are 1-0 with high-fives from the coach’s kid.”
The “Seven” will be back in action this Saturday as they hit the road to face Emory-Oxford College in Georgia. The “Seven” lost to Emory-Oxford at home just two weeks ago, 85-63. A make-up game with Clayton State is in the works for next week. No date or time is set yet for the game slated to tip-off at The RAC, home of the Bobcats.
The TCSGAA Conference Tournament will be held on March 4-5 at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga.
For more information on the Lady Cats and Bobcats Basketball programs at Georgia Northwestern or any student-athlete project at Georgia Northwestern, you can contact the Office of Sports Information at 706.764-3813 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Georgia Northwestern is Northwest Georgia’s largest college with an annual enrollment of nearly 10,000 students across four campuses and online.
Men’s Box Score
Georgia Northwestern Bobcats (80) – Kyle Wilson 18, Woods 6, Jesse Moore 14, Ty Bonds 16, Ben Patton 21, Ware 2, Jackson 3.
Hiwassee Tigers JV (76) – Mack 3, Zach Williams 27, Henderson 3, Biven, Joel Bailey 20, Boyd 5, Justin Brownie 13, Allen, Bowering 2.
Halftime Score: 47-39, Georgia Northwestern
Bobcat guard Treas Jackson draws contact as he drives to the basket against Hiwassee College forward Zach Williams
- Photo2 by Don Foley