Carrollton, GA – West Georgia Tech outlasted Emory-Oxford in overtime 99-95 here Wednesday night to claim its 5th Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) Division III Championship. As expected, the win did not come easy. The contest featured 18 lead changes and the score was tied 14 times, but the Knights scored the game's last 4 points in overtime to pull out the hard-fought victory.
The first half was a back-forth-affair featuring 14 lead changes as the two teams went to the break tied 42-42. In the second half, the Knights seemingly had pulled away. A 3-pointer by Joshua Archer (Decatur – Heritage) gave WGTC its largest lead at 12, 66-54 with 12:08 remaining. The Eagles battled back, outscoring the Knights 16-4 over the next 6:18 to knot the game at 70 with 5:49 to play. Oxford was not done though. Following a 3 point field goal by Zane Patel with 2:46 to play, the Eagles took their largest lead at 84-76. The Knights clawed back to within 4 points, but 2 free throws by JJ Halaby with 1:06 to play pushed the Eagle lead to 90-84.
The final minute featured more action. Archer sank 2 free throws with 1:00 remaining and following an Oxford turnover, Kameron Hickey (Acworth – Etowah) hit 2 pressure free throws to cut the Eagle lead to 90-88 with 53 seconds to play. Following another steal, Hickey hit a lay-up with 25 seconds to play marking the 12th tie of the game at 90-90. Oxford held for the final shot and missed a couple of chances and the game went into overtime.
In the overtime period, the game was tied yet again at 95-95 when a free throw by Jahir Joyner (South Orange, NJ – Duluth) with 1:21 gave the Knights a lead that they would not relinquish. A Tyler Glover (Covington – Newton) made a layup with 33 seconds to play to extend the lead to 98-95. After a failed 3 point attempt by the Eagles, Glover put the game out of reach with a free throw with a one second remaining to make the final 99-95.
WGTC (11-9, 2-0) was led by Hickey's game high 32 points. Juwan Johnson (Covington – Newton) added 20 point while Bevon Way (Atlanta - Union Grove) pulled down 13 rebounds. Oxford (17-7, 0-2) was led by Halaby's 28 points. Patel added 24 points and Jermon Clark contributed 17 points and a game high 16 boards.
With only 2 teams playing in the GCAA Division III this year, the winner of the 3 game season series would be declared the champion. After pulling out a hard-fought 81-79 victory in Oxford on January 26, the Knights found themselves one game away from claiming its 5th championship which they were able to secure with tonight's win. The two teams will meet again in Oxford on February 23. The Knights will advance to the NJCAA District VII Championship March 2-3 hosted by Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, NC. Prior to this year, Coach Niki Okolovitch's team claimed championships in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017.
WGTC will be at home again this Saturday when they host Division I Georgia Gwinnett College. Tip is set for 3 pm at Oak Mountain Academy.