Griffin, GA – It took a little longer, but the West Georgia Technical College (WGTC) Men defeated Southern Crescent in an overtime thriller 78-75 here Friday evening to claim the regular season Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) Division III Championship.
Coach Niki Okolovitch was proud of his squad.
"That was as important a regular season game as we've had since I've been here. Not only was first place on the line, but an automatic berth in our district championship," he said. "What a great game - two teams with very similar kids, in very similar circumstances, putting it all on the line in a very crucial game."
WGTC opened quickly, building a 9-2 lead just three minutes into the game. The Tigers responded with their own run and pushed ahead 34-23 at 4:30 of the half. The Golden Knight's rallied to cut the deficit to 3 at the break, trailing 40-37.
Southern Crescent held the lead for much of the second half. With 3:36 to play, WGTC finally pushed ahead 63-62 and extended the lead to 67-62 by the 2:25 mark. A late Tiger flurry, including a 3-point basket by Rajah Bush with 7 seconds remaining sent the contest to overtime at 68-68. In overtime, Joe Boyer's 3-pointer with 1:24 to play gave the Golden Knights a 75-72 lead it would not relinquish.
The Golden Knights were led by Boyer's 23 points. Donovan Grubb contributed 20 followed by 17 from San Rozier. Southern Crescent (12-12, 2-2) was led by Antoine Gresham's 21 points, while Bush added 19.
Winners of 4 straight, the Golden Knights (13-11, 3-0) earn the top seed and receive a first round bye in the upcoming GCAA Tournament beginning at Emory-Oxford beginning Feb. 25. Since the top 2 teams advance to the NJCAA District Tournament, WGTC is guaranteed a spot in that tournament as well.
Okolovitch looks forward to the challenge.
"I couldn't be happier for our sophomores, who I know have been thirsty for a second chance at the district since a disappointing loss in last year's conference championship game knocked us out of that opportunity," he said.
The Golden Knights will play their final home game Monday, Feb. 13, when they host 22nd-ranked Division 1 Marion Military. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Oak Mountain Academy.