Reinhardt women clinch NAIA berth

Reinhardt poses for a team photo after their big win over Bryan on Monday night to clinch a berth to the national tournament. (Reinhardt Athletics)

ATHENS, Tenn. – Sixty-eight points combined from a trio of Reinhardt Eagles – Jada Hubbard (27), former Sonoraville High standout Rebecca Cheeks (21) and JessAnn Nix (20) – was too much for No. 23 Bryan (Tenn.) on Monday night, as Reinhardt claimed victory, 78-62, in an Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC)-seeding game to decide the top team in the AAC Tournament later this week.

With the win, Reinhardt (24-8) also earned the league’s automatic bid to the 27th Annual NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Mercy Medical Center and Seaboard Triumph Foods (March 7-13).

It is the second-consecutive season the Eagles will be making the trip to the National Championship at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.

The road trip to the Midwest in early March was made possible by taking the intensity on both ends of the court to new heights, all while staying focused on the defensive end and being locked in when shooting the ball.

Reinhardt was above 50 percent shooting on the evening (51.7), including eight 3-pointers, and seemed just a step faster than the Lions on this night by outrebounding them, 42-27, and forcing 16 turnovers.

Cheeks set the tone on the first shot of the game with a rejection, and then her team followed up with an 8-0 run as Hubbard nailed back-to-back treys to begin the scoring. Bryan would begin to hit some threes of its own and storm back to lead at the end of the opening period, 20-15.

Nix would show up big in the second quarter by making multiple tough attempts to help her club retake the advantage with a two-point lead at halftime. The momentum would build even greater in the third stanza for Reinhardt as the group would outscore Bryan, 29-18, thanks to the team combining for 12-of-16 from the floor in the period.

The deficit was now 13 points for the Lions and they wouldn’t get any closer in the final 10 minutes as the Eagles ballooned their lead to a game-high 21 points with just over five minutes left on the clock on a trey by Sara Byers.

Jaleya Mosley chipped in with 10 rebounds and a half-dozen assists to go along with her four points scored. Havyn Wilson also had three points – all from the charity stripe.

It was another double-double performance by Cheeks with 10 boards, and Nix wasn’t far behind with seven of her own.

The newly-crowned No. 1 seed had 28 points in the paint and 14 points directly attributed to Bryan miscues.

Former Calhoun High standout Tess Wright is also a player for Reinhardt, and former Sonoraville High standout Payton Smith is a graduate assistant coach.

In other recent college basketball news:

Cheeks named to All-AAC Team

KINGSPORT, Tenn. – After earning the Appalachian Athletic Conference’s (AAC) automatic bid to the 27th Annual NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Mercy Medical Center and Seaboard Triumph Foods (March 7-13) earlier this week, Reinhardt women’s basketball coach Lindsey Huffman was named the AAC Coach of the Year at the pre-tournament banquet Wednesday.

It is the second-consecutive year that Huffman has reeled in such an honor in the conference.

Also during the evening’s festivities, the league announced its All-Conference squads, and headlining the honors for the student-athletes for Reinhardt (24-8) – the AAC co-regular season champions – was sophomore forward and former Sonoraville standout Rebecca Cheeks’ first team mention.

Cheeks led her club in scoring at 11.1 points each time out. She also was a force on the glass and defensive end with 7.8 rebounds a game and 18 blocks on the year.

An additional duo was named to the All-AAC Second Team list as both Jada Hubbard and Jaleya Mosley heard their names called in this selection. Hubbard was the team’s second-leading scorer at a 9.6 per contest clip and nearly four rebounds a game.

Mosley, from Dyersburg, Tenn., has been a prime-contributor to the Eagles’ success – specifically the last two years as Reinhardt will be making back-to-back trips to the National Championship at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa – with 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 2017-18.

The accolades didn’t stop there for Mosley, as the junior guard was selected to the All-Defensive Team for the second-straight year.

Rierson scores 12 in loss

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – The Georgia College Men’s Basketball team (11-16, 7-14 PBC) had trouble keeping pace with Young Harris College (8-19, 7-14 PBC) Wednesday night, falling 85-69 on the road.

Young Harris came out hot on their Senior Night, starting the game on an 11-4 run. The Bobcats couldn’t grasp a lead for the length of the game, as the Mountain Lions finished with five double-digit scorers.

Freshman guard Jordan Thomas (Conyers) led the scoring for the Bobcats, tallying 13 points. Freshman Chapin Rierson (Calhoun) and sophomore Kohl Roberts (Atlanta) each added 12, the latter pulling in 11 rebounds for a double-double. The double-dip was Roberts’ seventh this season. The loss drops Georgia College to 7-14 in Peach Belt Conference (PBC) play, one game out of the top-eight that advance to the conference tournament, starting Feb. 28.

The Bobcats are back in action Saturday, Feb. 24 at 3:30 p.m., finishing the regular season by traveling to Francis Marion University.