The Georgia Northwestern Bobcats and Lady Bobcats had not won games on the same night all season long, so on a night of great significance for the athletic program, it was only fitting that the last time be the first time.
In what were the last regular season games ever for the two basketball programs, the Navy-and-Silver thrilled the home crowd with a Tuesday night sweep. the Lady Bobcats held off Dalton State women's club team before the Bobcats got a measure of revenge against the Hiwassee College JV program at the Rossville Athletic Center.
Georgia Northwestern women 52, Dalton State (club team) 41
In the opener, the visiting Roadrunners overcame an early 5-0 deficit to take a 14-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, in a first half that saw eight lead changes and five ties, the Lady Bobcats would put on a final scoring flurry at the end of the half to go up 28-23 at the break.
Gracen Hobbs would open the third quarter with a 3-pointer that jump-started a 10-0 run over the first 5:40 of the period and the Lady Bobcats' 15-point lead would be equaled again with two minutes left in the third quarter. However, Dalton State would go on a 7-0 run to close out the third and cut the deficit down to eight points to start the final period.
But that would be as close as the Roadrunners would get as they shot just 20.7 percent from the floor in the second half. Georgia Northwestern (9-12) would keep Dalton State at arm's length the rest of the way, thanks to a 50-36 advantage on the boards for the game.
Abby Dalton had 16 points in the win, followed by Hobbs who had 12 points on four 3-pointers. Mia Clark added 10 points, while Tori Harvey had six points to go with 12 rebounds and five assists. Four points by Jerriale Jackson and two points each by Jerrian Jackson and Katelyn O'Toole rounded out the scoring.
Ashlyn Clements had 12 points and was the only Dalton State player in double figures.
Georgia Northwestern men 81, Hiwassee College JV 71
In the nightcap, Georgia Northwestern (6-17) led wire-to-wire and got revenge for a 112-89 loss to the Tigers in Madisonville, Tenn. back on Jan. 31.
The Bobcats led 10-2 early and withstood a 9-1 run by Hiwassee to push the lead to as many as 13 points late in the first half.
A 12-5 spurt, highlighted by two very athletic drives to the basket by Mark Chester and Jeremy Wilson, plus a couple of nice hustle plays on defense by Kannen Derryberry, helped the Bobcats stay in front. Great ball movement in the closing seconds led to a 3-pointer by Jayce Harris that gave Georgia Northwestern a 37-26 lead at the break.
Hiwassee would get hot in the opening 3:30 of the second half and a 3-pointer by Justice Alameda would slice the Bobcats' lead down to 46-42. However, Wilson and Cole McKeehan would answer with a couple of timely threes and the Bobcats were able to get the lead back to double digits with 12:06 remaining.
A fierce hailstorm outside the R.A.C. would briefly knock out power during a timeout and the teams would have to play in a partially-darkened gym for a few moments while the lights came back to full brightness. But it didn't seem to bother the Bobcats, who hit back-to-back buckets to help give them their biggest lead of the game at 68-53.
The Tigers never allowed the Bobcats to completely pull away and actually chopped the lead back down to seven points in the final 30 seconds, but one final 3-pointer from the corner by Harris with 15 seconds left would seal the victory.
McKeehan continued his hot shooting with six 3-pointers and 18 total points. Wilson had 15 points, followed by 13 from Harris and 12 by Chester. Harris also had 10 rebounds on the night. J.T. Langford finished with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists. Jarret Gill added seven points. Derryberry had five points, but grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds, while Hayden Murphy rounded out the scoring with two points.
"It's always nice when they both win on the same night, since that hasn't happened all that often," head coach and athletic director David Stephenson said. "(Hiwassee) beat us by 23 up there the last time we played, so to get this one at home was very nice. They've been a good rivalry with us the last few years and the women winning again was huge. We're hoping they'll still have another game or two coming up in a couple of weeks."
Georgia Northwestern is set to host the Southern Crossroads Athletic Association tournament Mar.7-9. The Bobcats' men's team is assured of playing in the tournament, although a women's SCAA tournament had not been finalized as of press time.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College has made the decision to end athletics after 12 years at the school. Although the wins on Tuesday were somewhat bittersweet, Stephenson still called the past dozen years "a wonderful experience."
"We were talking about it the other day," he said. "In the 12 years that I've been here, we have logged more than a hundred thousand miles on the road. In all that time, we've never had one flat tire, or any other problem or incident and that's just a tribute to God's blessings on us."
"It's been great to see how everything has grown over the years," he continued. "Not just the facilities and what we were able to do with them, but the relationships we've developed with other colleges and the relationships with the players and seen how they have all grown. We've had some players go on to do some great things in the 12 years that I've been here and we saw everything just continue to improve.
"But one of the biggest things has been the relationships that I have formed with my staff. The bonds have grown so much that these people are more like my family than my staff. To see some of the younger coaches under me on this staff continue to grow, that's the part I'll probably miss the most."