With a season that changed courses many times due to unforeseen circumstances, the Georgia Highlands College men’s basketball team did its best to maintain a level of success and accomplishment that has become its trademark.
But with some tough calls early against an embattled opponent, the Chargers’ season came to an end Saturday after losing to Central Georgia Tech 75-65 in the NJCAA Region XVII championship game in Cuthbert.
The loss came less than 24 hours after Georgia Highlands had knocked off the No. 1 seed in the tournament with a 92-80 win over Andrew College in Friday’s semifinals.
The Chargers have fought through adversity all year due to injuries, losing three players for the season along the way, but continued to grind out wins, finishing the season with a 23-10 record.
“I am so proud how this team has fought through all the adversity this year. We have had so many injuries, but they found a way to battle and overcome every obstacle,” Georgia Highlands head coach Phil Gaffney said after Friday’s win.
The Chargers were plagued by foul trouble early in Saturday’s title game as GCAA All-Region player Khalyl Waters picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game and got his third just before the half.
The Titans went on a 10-point run with 7:43 left in the first half to take a 24-14 lead, but GHC cut the lead to 29-24 at the half. The Chargers had a tough first half offensively, shooting only 32 percent from the field and only 1-of-11 from the 3-point line.
In the second half it was all Central Georgia with the Titans extending their lead to as many as 19 points with 4:47 to go. The Chargers didn’t give up battling to cut the Titans’ lead to eight, 73-65, but that was as close as Georgia Highlands would come.
Playing in his last game as a Charger, Waters led GHC with 18 points, Carl Johnson added 16 points, and Derrick Cook added 10.
Georgia Highlands upset the higher seed for the second time in as many games Friday in the win over Andrew College.
The Chargers fought to keep the game close in the first half Friday, finishing the first half tied with Andrew at 35 each. The Chargers took a 15-point lead with 13:10 to go — their largest of the game — but the Tigers battled back to cut the Chargers’ lead to six late.
The Tigers were forced to foul and the Chargers made their free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Georgia Highlands was led by Johnson, the GCAA Freshman Player of the Year, with 29 points. Waters had 20 points, while Chris Wright battled through a sore ankle to score 20 points as well.