Just eight months removed from the Lady Cats first trip to the NJCAA national tournament in program history, Coach Jim Williams and his young roster opened up their title defense year with a step-up game with cross-town rival and Division I program, Georgia Highlands.
The game stayed tight in the first half in what turned into an extremely physical game, but it would slowly be taken over by NCAA Division I recruit 5-foot-11 Shanique Holston. The Reynolds, Georgia native would lead all scorers with 30 points on the night.
Off the tip, just three minutes into the first game of Georgia Northwestern’s NJCAA Region XVII Division III title defense, their match-up with Georgia Highlands turned into a well-rounded launch of the run for a repeat.
Freshman Alyssa Nichelson opened the first three minutes with two steals and a block. Freshman Kiarra Parks dropped three bombs from outside. It didn’t take long for the Lady Cats to realize they were quickly building a cross-county rivalry on the collegiate level.
After knotting things up at 10-10, the Lady Chargers grabbed several turnovers and capitalized on a handful of missed shots from inside the paint by the Cats to take off on a 15-4 to take a 25-14 lead with eight to go in the first stanza.
A huge bomb from freshman Sierra Smith as she launched and connected from 23-feet to cut the deficit to seven, 39-32, with one minute to play in the half. A pair of late free throws from sophomore Emily Cole cut the Lady Charger lead to five. A lay-up at the buzzer took the GHC lead back to seven at the intermission, 41-34.
The second half quickly went the way of the Lady Chargers as they went on a 17-4 run to open the second half. Shanique Holston would drop nine of the 17 points in the five minute run before the Lady Cats would call the timeout with 14:55 remaining.
Subs every two minutes by the Lady Cats would keep the legs fresh but would not lead to making up the gap as the Division I Lady Chargers would outscore GNTC by 28 in the final twenty minutes taking the game, 90-55.
“We like to schedule these games against bigger opponents to get our squad ready for region play beginning January,” said Williams. “To be straight forward, though, our team played extremely competitive with them.”
Injuries to Alyssa Nichelson’s ankle and Emily Cole’s knee in the second half appeared to shut their games down for the night. No word yet on their status as Georgia Northwestern (0-1) gets set to head to Nashville for the Welch College Invitational Tournament this weekend.
For more information on Lady Cats Basketball at Georgia Northwestern, contact the Office of Sports Information at 706.764.3813 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Georgia Northwestern has five campuses across Northwest Georgia directly serving nine different counties in the Peach State.