Georgia Northwestern’s Lady Cats find themselves in an unusual position going into the final week of the NJCAA regular season. The NJCAA’s Region XVII defending champions must win their region finale Saturday in Rossville (GA) versus Middle Georgia Tech to earn regular season co-champion honors with West Georgia Tech.
The Lady Cats (11-10, 4-1) are a half-game behind West Georgia Tech after losing their road match-up with the Lady Golden Knights (10-16, 5-1) this past Friday night in LaGrange, Georgia, 78-69.
Freshmen Alyssa Nichelson (Canton, GA) and Odessa Person (Lineville, AL) led the way for the Lady Cats. Nichelson dropped in 14 points and pulled down a dozen boards in the effort. Person only managed six points, but did find ways to clean the road glass for staggering 21 rebounds as she continues to lead the region in that category. Lady Golden Knight Nicole Marshall led all scorers with 17.
If Georgia Northwestern wins their re-match with the Lady Titans from Warner-Robbins (GA) Saturday, it would put the Lady Cats in a tie for the lead of NJCAA Region XVII with West Georgia Tech. Given those teams have split their regular season series and have no other loses to compare throughout their region, a coin-toss would be held prior to the post-season tournament which begins February 22 to determine the top-seed in the NJCAA National Qualifier.
The Lady Cats won the NJCAA Region XVII Tournament last season earning Georgia Northwestern its first-ever bid to a national tournament for any intercollegiate athletic event. A first-round loss in 2012 to eventual National Semi-Finalist Montgomery College-Rockville (MD) would leave the Lady Cats hoping for a return trip this March.
On the men’s side of the weekend road trip, the Bobcats went into the break with West Georgia Tech tied at 38-all. However, the Golden Knights would find their way to a 20-point lead late in the game eventually taking the contest, 80-64. The Cats lost the front-side of the set in early January at the R.A.C., 88-73.
Sophomore NJCAA All-Region and All-District First-Teamer Alex Miller (Calhoun, GA) would lead all scorers with 19 points. 47-percent shooting from the field, 57-percent shooting from the foul line, and 22 turnovers would lead to the Bobcats (7-17, 0-7) road loss. West Georgia Tech (11-14, 4-3) would be led by Ryan Jones and Randazzero Chaney as they both added 18 points each on the night.
Although the focus will be winning the post-season tournament while they are on the hardwood, the Bobcats and Lady Cats will also be doing what they can to pitch in to help the tornado victims from the storms which struck Bartow and Gordon County just two weeks ago.
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams from Georgia Northwestern field players from towns and high schools right in the middle of the destructive path of the storm. Sophomore standout Emily Cole is a graduate of Adairsville High School in Adairsville, Georgia.
Cole and her family were fortunate and the EF-3 tornado and its 160-mph winds missed their homes. Others in Cole’s life weren’t as fortunate. “I had an old teammate whose house was damaged by the tornado,” said Cole. “Mainly, the destruction of the town was a personal thing to me. I've always lived in Adairsville and it felt like my home was destroyed.“
More than 500 structures were damaged or destroyed when the funnel cloud touched down and ripped across the neighboring Northwest Georgia counties. “Everyone was impacted in our town by the tornado,” said Cole. “We are just such a close community. I want people to know that this town has God on their side and that no matter what, He is always going to be there to help us pick up the mess.”
Bobcat players Alex Miller, Tavish Reynolds, and Richard Olsen are all from Calhoun, Georgia. Former teammates and classmates of Reynolds, a graduate of Sonoraville High School, were extremely fortunate. Witnesses say the same tornado that tore Adairsville apart came within striking distance of the Sonoraville High School campus that morning.
For the remaining home games, the Bobcats and Lady Cats will be donating a portion of their proceeds to relief efforts in the towns hardest hit by the storm. For more information on the effort, you can contact the Office of Sports Information at 706.764.3813 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Georgia Northwestern is a member of the NJCAA Region XVII, the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association, and a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia.