No.6 WGTC runs by Butler Co. to head to Elite 8 at National Championship

No.6 WGTC runs by Butler Co. to head to Elite 8 at National Championship

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -- Wrap the District G Championship in Black and Gold. 

No. 6 West Georgia Tech ran by, over and through the Butler County (Pa.) Pioneers on the way to a 87-55 victory Saturday afternoon in the District G Championship Game at the Morehead Field House on the campus of Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pa. 

For the second time in school history, the Golden Knights made the eight-team field for the NJCAA Division-III Women's Basketball National Championship Tournament, held March 10-12 at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, N.J. 

"What a tremendous effort by all 15 girls for the entire game to give us a big victory," WGTC head coach Kenny Edwards said. "We had big players step up, Kia Jefferson and Jacky Jones, and we had role players come in and do their jobs. We played the way we wanted to play, for the most part, and that put us in a good position as the game went on." 

Saturday's game came down to which team could force the other to play its preferred style - with WGTC wanting to run and attack for forty minutes utilizing its 15-player roster, and Butler County Community College (commonly called BC3) preferring a slower pace with an inside-outside game centered around Julia Baxter, one of the best players in the country. 

West Georgia Tech won that battle. In fact, they ran away with it. 

The Golden Knights pressured BC3 from the start and it clearly rattled them. 

Butler County head coach Dick Hartung said West Georgia Tech's depth and continuous pressure disrupted his squad's game plan. 

"That's the best team we have played all season," Hartung said. "The thing that impressed me the most about them (WGTC) is that they just kept coming in waves. They would bring five more in and they were just as good as the ones that started. We just couldn't find our footing on offense. You don't see teams like what we saw today very often, where they come after you with more than a dozen players. You can't stop that style of play on this level. And all 15 of them are good." 

Kia Jefferson led West Georgia Tech with 15 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 7 of 9 from the field. Jefferson also led the Knights with six steals. 

Jacky Jones also had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and was the primary defender against Butler County's star forward Julia Baxter. 

Brianna Cousin had another big day off the bench with nine points and eleven rebounds, including five rebounds on the offensive glass.  

JaNoah Daniels had eight points and Tymeshia Dozer contributed seven for WGTC. Dominque Washington led the Knights in assists with five. 

Butler County's Julia Baxter scored 23 points to lead the Pioneers in scoring. Baxter was a big concern coming into the game with her 24-point, 14-rebound average. Baxter scored her points, but a good chunk of them came from the free throw line. WGTC's defense, led by Jacky Jones and followed by Brianna Cousin and others, didn't allow Baxter to get many open looks, if any at all. 

WGTC controlled the game from start to finish. The Knights jumped in front early, 12-3 with 6:22 left in the first quarter, and withstood two runs by the Pioneers. BC3 battled back to make it 12-7 at the six-minute mark. WGTC followed with a 7-1 run over the next two minutes to push its lead back out to 19-8. 

The Pioneers pulled back to within six, 22-16, at the end of the first quarter. 

The Golden Knights began to wear down Butler County in the second quarter. WGTC outscored the Pioneers 27-15 in the second quarter to take a comfortable 49-31 lead at halftime. 

Baxter picked up her third foul late in the half, which put her in foul trouble for the rest of the game. 

WGTC's largest lead of the game was 84-47 with less than three minutes remaining. 

West Georgia Tech had one of its best offensive performances of the season, shooting 54.5 percent from the field (36 of 66). WGTC hit 2 of 15 from three-point range and 10 of 19 from the free throw line.  

WGTC has won 11 in a row and 16 of its last 17 games. The Knights are 25-3 after starting the year with a pair of losses to NJCAA Division-I programs. 

West Georgia Tech won its second District G title in three years to advance to the final stage of the postseason -- the eight-team National Championship Tournament.  

WGTC will learn its seed, which can fall anywhere between one and eight, and its opponent on March 7

The Golden Knights finished seventh in the 2014 tournament, which was held in Minnesota. 

West Georgia Tech will travel to the northeastern part of the country for this year's event, which is hosted by Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, N.J. Lincroft is about an hour southeast of New York City. 

"I'm so happy for these girls because they have put in so much effort to get better over the course of the season," said Edwards. "Each one of them bought in to our system, which doesn't give you flashy point totals. But if you coalesce as a team and play together, you can do great things like win championships." 

WGTC has two championships in the bag already -- a third-consecutive Region 17 title, which the Knights won last Sunday, and the District G Championship that was earned today in the foothills of western Pennsylvania. 

There is one championship left that could be won. And it's the most important one of all. 

To win the national championship, the Golden Knights will have to win three games in three days starting Thursday, March 10

These running Knights just might do it.