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Lady Cats Sweet 16, Bobcats Need Three In Three

           

            (Rome, Georgia) – “Great moments are born from great opportunity,” is a line from the 2004 movie ‘Miracle’ which gives the account of the 1980 USA Hockey Team and their underdog rise to the top.

 

            It’s a line that fits for the Georgia Northwestern Lady Bobcats Saturday in Rockville, Maryland. However, it’s going to take more than a great speech to make this miracle a reality and Lady Cats Head Basketball Coach Jim Williams knows it. “They’re bigger, they score a lot, and have been there before,” said Williams. “We have our work cut out.”

 

The Lady Cats will tip-off with #6 Montgomery College – Rockville (MD) at 2 p.m. Saturday.

 

            State of Georgia dignitaries stopped by to help send the Lady Cats off as they hit the road Thursday for Maryland. Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Commissioner Ron Jackson, TCSG Board of Directors Chair Paul Holmes, and TCSG Board of Directors member Pepper Bullock hopped on the tour bus to wish them well. Holmes was a lineman for the University of Georgia football team in the 1960’s. “We are very proud of these student-athletes and what these kinds of opportunities mean for them, as well as the college.”

 

            It’s one game for one spot in the NJCAA National Championship Weekend next week in Rochester, Minnesota.

             The Sweet 16 match-up will be forty minutes of basketball with two seasons on the line with every shot. For the winner, it’s a date in the NJCAA’s Elite Eight. For the loser, it’s something to build on for the 2012-2013 season.

 

            They’ve been there before, though. The Lady Knights of Montgomery College-Rockville (MD) earned a spot in the final eight last year before making an early exit on the main stage.

 

            But that was last year. This year, sixth in the nation, Montgomery-Rockville (25-5) comes with all the bells and whistles you might expect from a nationally-ranked program. They possess an arsenal complete with multiple six-footers, one of the nation’s top scorers in the backcourt in 5-foot-3 Alex Silva (20 ppg), and an offensive output of over 80 points every time they hit the hardwood.

 

            After hitting the road for more than 12-hours Thursday, the Lady Cats will be taking it easy for most of Friday as they will get a tour of the nation’s capital before going over Saturday’s game plan. One that will assuredly center around the sophomore play of point guard Mia Morrow (Rome, GA) and forward Jessica Williams (Cherry Log, GA).

 

            As a co-captain in 2011-12, the 5-foot-2 Morrow led the NJCAA Region XVII champions with just over 10 points, six assists, and three steals per outing. Morrow was named to the All-Region First Team for her play this season. Williams, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, gave her new All-Region Second Team honors a spin in the NJCAA Region XVII title game last Saturday by leading the way with 16 points and 14 boards in the win.

 

            Playing just 25 minutes away from Washington, D.C., this is a special trip for more reasons than just the game. “Getting to see D.C. is an opportunity for these young women they may never have again,” said Williams. “We plan on taking it all in. Each of these student-athletes is very driven and focused on Saturday. Once the season ends, though, they have spring semesters to concentrate on, families to care for, and lives to lead. We are truly coming into this game as underdogs and we are embracing it.”

 

            The Lady Cats (5-15, 4-3) played one of the nation’s toughest schedules in the NJCAA. Facing traditional Division I powers in Gadsden State and Snead State (AL) and Cleveland State and Volunteer State (TN), Williams tried to lay out a plan that would prepare his squad for something like this weekend. “We took our lumps this season,” said Williams. “But in the end, we learned a lot and improved quickly. It really helped in region play.”

 

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            Beginning Friday at 7 p.m., the Georgia Northwestern Bobcats will have a huge mountain to climb, as well. Like any collegiate post-season tournament, every college has a shot. David Stephenson’s Bobcats have just that this weekend.

 

            The Bobcats face-off with Southern Crescent Tech in the NJCAA Region XVII Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal Friday. In January, Georgia Northwestern (7-19, 0-8) took the Tigers to overtime on the road losing, 70-67. Four weeks ago, the Bobcats lost to the same squad at home by four, 59-55.

 

            With the opening round game tipping-off at 7 p.m. at tournament host Emory-Oxford College, Georgia Northwestern will have to win three games in approximately 38 hours to win their region and a birth to the NJCAA national tournament. The tournament title game is slated to begin at 2 p.m., Sunday.

 

            The Bobcats will bring freshman Alex Miller (Gordon Central) and his 13 points and eight boards a game to the party in Oxford, Georgia this weekend. Also on the guest list is the region’s top three-point gunner in Bobcat sophomore Ben Patton (Dade). The second-year sharpshooter has connected on 76 three-pointers in the 2011-12 season, 31 more than Zachary Lynn of Emory-Oxford who currently sits in second-place in the region’s long-range category.

 

            Odds on favorite to win the region tournament belong to Middle Georgia Tech. The Titans (20-9, 6-2) outscore opponents by 10 points a game. However, Middle Georgia Tech, Emory-Oxford, and West Georgia Tech are all in a three-way tied for the regular season title with 6-2 marks in region play.

 

            “These are all teams we’ve had second-half leads against this season,” said Georgia Northwestern Men’s Head Basketball Coach David Stephenson. “We are bringing an eight-man roster to Oxford and we have to find a way to get the job done with these players. We have to play the smartest ball we’ve played all season to have a chance.”

 

            You can watch the NJCAA Region XVII Tournament in its entirety on SouthlandSportsTV.com.

 

            For more information on Bobcats and Lady Cats Basketball at Georgia Northwestern, contact the Office of Sports Information at 706-764-3813. You may also e-mail Don Foley in the Office of Sports Information at dfoley@gntc.edu. For more information on Georgia Northwestern Technical College, visit their website at GNTC.edu.

 

            Georgia Northwestern Technical College educates more than 10,000 students each year online and on-campus. GNTC has campuses in five different counties across Northwest Georgia serving the people of Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield Counties.