Posted: Feb 20, 2016
OXFORD, Georgia --- West Georgia Tech will play for its fourth Region 17 championship in five years Sunday following a 79-74 victory over the Southern Crescent Tech Tigers in a semifinal matchup Saturday afternoon.
West Georgia Tech is now 9-1 in the Region 17 Tournament since it joined the league in 2011-12.
The Golden Knights will play the Oxford College Eagles on Oxford's home court, Williams Gymnasium on the Oxford College Campus in Oxford, Ga. Sunday at 4 p.m. The winner advances to the District 7 Tournament next weekend in North Carolina.
West Georgia Tech and Oxford will meet after the women's championship game, which features seventh-ranked West Georgia Tech against Southern Crescent. The women's championship will tip at 2 p.m.
Sunday will mark the third straight year that the Golden Knights have played a region championship doubleheader in this tournament, with both the men's team and women's team playing in the finals.
WGTC center Adrian Tolbert was nearly unstoppable on both ends of the floor Saturday, with 15 points and 13 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season.
Jalen Bracey, Dominique Lindsey and Donovan Grubb all scored 15 points for the Golden Knights, while Cameron Carter added 13. Lindsey led the team in assists, with five.
"What can you say, other than they just know what to do in these situations," WGTC head coach Niki Okolovitch said. "I don't have to do a lot of yelling and screaming because our guys know they have to rebound the ball, get back in transition and make shots. In a game like this you just let your guys play. And our guys pulled it out in the end."
West Georgia Tech and Southern Crescent both played up-tempo throughout, and the lead for either team rarely reached more than five or six points. WGTC led by as much as seven in the first half and by ten in the second half, only to see the Tigers rally both times.
After the Tigers scored the first bucket of the game, West Georgia Tech went on a 10-2 run over the next four minutes to take an early 10-4 lead. WGTC led 17-10 with 12:59 left before a Southern Crescent run tied it at 19-19 with 10:59 remaining.
WGTC never trailed the rest of the half and closed the half on a 9-4 run, which tuned a 31-30 lead into a 40-34 advantage at intermission.
Cameron Carter hit a big three from the left corner, which put West Georgia Tech up 50-40 with 14:11 to go in the second half. That would be West Georgia Tech's largest lead.
The Golden Knights then went cold offensively, scoring just two points over the next four minutes. The Tigers took advantage as they went on a 13-2 run to take a 54-53 lead at the midway point of the second half. That was Southern Crescent's first lead since they led 2-0.
Neither team led by more than three points over the next six minutes.
With West Georgia Tech trailing 67-65 at the 4:15-mark, Dominique Lindsey went to the line in a one-and-one situation. The sophomore point guard calmly knocked down both free throws to tie the score, 67-67.
Adrian Tolbert then took over.
The WGTC big man pulled down a big rebound off a missed Southern Crescent shot and got the ball to Donovan Grubb for a fast-break layup, which West Georgia Tech back in front, 69-67, with 3:20 remaining.
Cameron Carter made a layup on West Georgia Tech's next possession to extend the lead to four, at 71-67. WGTC rebounded a missed shot by the Tigers and again quickly pushed the ball in transition. The Golden Knights missed a shot but Tolbert grabbed the offensive rebound and scored on the put-back and WGTC was up 73-67 with 1:55 to go.
Tolbert had another offensive rebound on WGTC's next possession. This time he slammed the ball into the goal, and West Georgia Tech led 75-67 with a little more than a minute remaining.
Southern Crescent did not go down quietly. A quick bucket followed by a West Georgia Tech turnover gave SCTC the ball down by six points with a minute remaining.
A West Georgia Tech foul put Southern Crescent on the line with :53 seconds left and the Tigers made both free throws to pull to within four, at 75-71.
Both teams missed the front end of one-and-one's on their next possession. WGTC had the ball up four with :39 left when Jalen Bracey was double-teamed on the sideline. The sophomore guard smartly called a timeout to keep possession. Following the timeout WGTC held on to the ball for the next twenty seconds before SCTC fouled, putting the Golden Knights on the line. WGTC was never threatened the rest of the way.
West Georgia Tech and Oxford College have met four times in the Region 17 Tournament, with the Golden Knights holding a 4-0 advantage. WGTC defeated Oxford in the championship game three-straight times from 2012-14, with two of those games on Oxford's home floor.
West Georgia Tech and Oxford tied the regular season series 1-1, with both teams winning on the road. The Eagles beat West Georgia Tech in Carrollton, 67-56, while West Georgia Tech won at Oxford in the last conference game of the year, 75-62.
West Georgia Tech leads the series 8-6, dating back to the 2011-12 season.
West Georgia Tech is 15-13 on the year, and Oxford is 16-14. Both teams finished in a three-way tie for first place in the final conference standings at 4-2.
West Georgia Tech is 8-1 over its last nine games while Oxford has won five of its last eight.
"It'll be a much different style of play tomorrow against Oxford," Okolovitch said. "It will be more of a half-court game rather than what we had today where we could run up and down. They are a well-coached team that doesn't make a lot of mistakes so we will have to play smart basketball on both ends and execute. We'll get home and get some rest, come back tomorrow and see what happens."
West Georgia Tech and Oxford College playing for the Region 17 Championship has a familiar ring to it. The Golden Knights are hoping for a familiar outcome on Sunday.
Visit www.WGTCAthletics.com for updates. Scoring updates throughout WGTC's men's and women's basketball games will be posted on WGTC's social media platform: Facebook (www.Facebook.com/WGTCAthletics); Twitter (@WGTCAthletics). Live video of this weekend's Region 17 Tournament will be available at: www.jockjivesports.net/the-gcaa-sports-network.