Georgia College, Montevallo advance to PBC tournament finals

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerMarch 8, 2014 

The Georgia College women's basketball team steamrolled its way into the Peach Belt Conference tournament finals with an 83-67 victory over No. 23 North Georgia Saturday afternoon at the Lumpkin Center.

"We're ready (for today's 2 p.m. title game)," said Georgia College junior Enisha Donley, who had 21 points, eight rebounds and two steals. "This team can do it all. We're going to come ready to play no matter who we play."

With the win, Georgia College (18-10) -- the No. 4 seed from the PBC's Western Division -- becomes the second straight No. 4 seed to qualify for the tournament championship game after North Georgia accomplished the feat last year. The Bobcats will also look to become the first No. 4 or lower seed to win a PBC tournament title since Lander won the 2008 tournament as a No. 4 seed.

The Bobcats, which lost to North Georgia twice in the regular season, jumped on North Georgia (22-6) from the opening tip. Georgia College scored the game's first nine points and limited the Nighthawks to just one field goal in the first 9:12 as it built a 24-4 lead just over seven minutes into the contest.

"We got off to a terrific start," said Georgia College coach Maurice Smith, whose team is seeking its first PBC tournament title since 2011.

"We knew North Georgia was going to make a run, but the start we got off to gave us a nice buffer. We're continuing to gain confidence and I'm just proud of the concentration and effort we put in today."

North Georgia -- which had a run of four straight wins and seven victories in eight contests snapped -- went on a 14-3 run to close to within 27-18 with 7:30 to go before halftime, but Georgia College responded with a 13-2 burst of its own to go back up 40-20. Following that run by the Bobcats, North Georgia closed the half strong by scoring 10 straight points to go into the locker room only down 43-30.

Shanteona Keys led the Bobcats with 15 points and Donley added 11 points in the first 20 minutes for Georgia College, which made 10 of its first 16 shots. Mimi Hill had 14 points and four rebounds and Stephanie Huffman chipped in nine points and five rebounds for the Nighthawks, which went only 1 for its first 10 from the field.

"You have to take your hat off to Georgia College," said North Georgia coach Buffie Burson. "They were feisty from the tip and we weren't ready. We made some runs at them, but we just kept running out of gas."

The Nighthawks made one more push early in the second half, closing to within 11 points at 51-40 on a pair of free throws by Huffman with 12:44 remaining. However, the Bobcats responded again and made a 9-0 run to open up a 67-45 advantage and North Georgia got no closer than 13 points in the final 7:03 of the game.

"All of our success these last two games goes back to defense," said Keys, who had 21 points and five rebounds. "We had a rocky closeout to the regular season, but we've started playing better defense again, scoring more points and sharing the ball on offense." Brandi McKinney also had 21 points, nine rebounds, five steals and three assists and LaRice Walker finished with 13 points, two rebounds and two steals for Georgia College.

Meanwhile, Hill scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Nighthawks. Huffman had 17 points, 14 rebounds and four assists, Cierra Jackson had 10 points, eight rebounds and two steals and Jordan Livesay pitched in 10 points and three rebounds. North Georgia got little offensive help outside of Huffman and Hill, as that duo went 16-for-34 (47.1 percent) from the field and scored 44 points, while the rest of the team was 4-for-26 (15.4 percent) and scored 23 points. The Nighthawks also made just 4 of their 24 3-point shots (16.7 percent) in the loss

Montevallo 96, Georgia Regents 87

Montevallo (23-4) advanced to the men's championship game with a hard-fought, double-overtime victory over Georgia Regents.

It marked the fifth straight season the teams have met in the Peach Belt Conference tournament.

Georgia Regents (23-7) had a chance to win the game in regulation, as Harold Doby tipped in an alley-oop pass and was fouled with six-tenths of a second left to tie the game at 71, but Doby missed the free throw and the game went to overtime.

In the first extra period, the teams traded baskets, but neither team was able to score in the final 1:39 and the game went to a second overtime tied at 78.

Montevallo took the lead for good in the second overtime when Shykeem Jackson hit a pair of free throws to give the Falcons an 87-85 lead with 2:10 remaining.

Montevallo forced a turnover by the Jaguars and Ryan May made a layup to put the Falcone ahead 89-85 and the Jaguars got no closer than four points the rest of the way.

Troran Brown led Montevallo with 27 points and a record-setting 13 assists as he played all 50 minutes of the game.

Brown's 13 assists set a new record for most assists in a PBC Tournament game, breaking the old mark of 12.

May had 21 points, seven rebounds and three steals, Jackson pitched in 17 points and five rebounds and Da-Juan Cooper had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Falcons.

Ryan Weems was the leading scorer for Georgia Regents with 23 points and four rebounds. K.J. Sherrill scored 19 points and had six rebounds and four assists, Doby netted 17 points, 13 rebounds and six assists and Keshun Sherrill chipped in 13 points and three assists for the Jaguars.

USC Aiken 78, Georgia Southwestern 63

The Pacers (28-3) advanced to their second straight PBC Tournament title game by wiping out the Hurricanes (20-10).

USC Aiken led 42-36 at halftime and took control of the game by going on an 11-2 run to start the second half. That burst widened the Pacers' advantage to 53-38 with 15:17 to go and Southwestern never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

"I thought we played much better defensively tonight," said USC Aiken head coach Vince Alexander, who celebrated his 50th birthday with a victory. "The guys played a lot better and a lot smarter."

Paul Larsen led Aiken with 25 points and 12 rebounds, Ronald Zimmerman had 15, three rebounds and two steals and DeVontae Wright added 13 with 10 assists and three rebounds as the Pacers set a new school record for most victories in a season.

Alan Arnett scored 20 points to lead Georgia Southwestern. Johathan Brooks had 16 with 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists and Jamon Hawkins pitched in 12 for the Hurricanes, which must now wait until tonight's announcement of the NCAA Tournament field to find out whether they will receive an at-large bid.

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