It’s a big step that the Georgia Northwestern Athletics ave been waiting on for five years. If the Lady Bobcats make magic happen on the hardwood this weekend, the college will earn its first national post-season tournament bid in school history.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, GNTC will face Middle Georgia Tech for the NJCAA Region XVII title. The game will be played at Emory-Oxford College in Oxford with the winner moving on to the NJCAA District Round.
The Lady Bobcats won their conference championship in a title game last year in dramatic fashion. After trailing by as many as 17 points in the second half, the Lady Cats would claw their way back and take home the championship, 72-65.
Although it was a conference win in 2011, it was the final game of the campaign for Williams’ squad that season.
“We played in the TCSGAA before this year’s schedule,” said Williams, referring to the Technical College System of Georgia Athletic Association. “There was no 'next round' last year. This season is the first full season we’ve been with the NJCAA, so we’re excited.”
The Lady Titans from Warner Robins lost to GNTC, 59-46, back in Rossville on Dec. 10, but Middle Georgia would return the favor on Jan. 14 with a 62-40 home victory.
“It’ll take leadership from our sophomores to have a chance at this thing,” said Williams. “Kayci (McGee), Kelsie (Philpot), Mia (Morrow), and Jessica (Williams) bring a ton of experience into this game Saturday. We’ll be utilizing those strengths.”
The Lady Cats could face a tougher task than they did in their regular season match-ups with Middle Georgia. Depending on the health of freshman forward Brittney Daughtry, Saturday's roster could field as few as six players.
“We’ve done it before and won with that number, too,” said Williams. “Saturday should be a lot of fun.”
Daughtry, a freshman from Georgia School for the Deaf, went on the inured list in January with a knee problem.
“Getting her back on the court is a process we are taking slowly and carefully,” said Williams.
Freshman guards Emily Cole and Kenisha Watkins will help anchor the back court for the Lady Cats on Saturday.
A win would send GNTC to a Northeastern site for a chance to move on in the tournament.
“The site for the next round is still to be determined by play across the country,” said Williams. “But we are worried about one site right now. That’s Williams Gymnasium at Emory-Oxford this Saturday.”
The Lady Bobcats got some good news on Thursday when they learned that Morrow was selected to the Region XVII All-First Team roster.
The 5-foor-2 Rome High alum is averaging 10 points, six assists, and three steals a game this season and set a school record with six 3-pointers in a game against Toccoa Falls College just nine days ago.
In her best offensive outing of the season, she lit up Freewill Baptist College of Nashville, Tenn. for 23 points, 10 assists, and five steals.
“Mia is a phenomenal student-athlete and really deserves the honor,” said Williams. “She really brings an X-factor the court that we can’t do without.”
Williams and Cole were named to region's second team.
“Jessica and Emily are starting to gel together at just the right time,” the coach continued. The inside-outside game they bring is one of the things we’ll need to have a chance in the post-season.”