The SCTC Tigers had three players in double figures Wednesday and made free throws down the stretch to upset the Oxford College of Emory University Eagles 71-64 in GJCAA Region 17 action at the Taylor Street gym. The Tigers’ third straight win puts them in first place in the conference, a welcome sight for a team that went 0-for-2012 this season.
Southern Crescent improves to 4-13 overall and 4-1 in conference play with its fourth win in five games while former top dog Oxford falls to 14-6, 1-1.
It was a sweet victory for the Tigers and their head coach Calvin Sinkfield, who lost all their first-half games to strong Division I and Division II teams this season including Gordon College, Chattahoochee Tech, Waycross College and Darton College. SCTC is a Division III school.
“I did schedule some extremely tough teams for us and we took our lumps, for sure. Next year, I won’t do that,” Sinkfield said. “But if anything good came out of it, it toughened us up for Division III play in the second half. It feels good to get this win over Oxford.”
The Tigers were buoyed in the new year by two additions to the team — former Spalding High shooting guard Derrius “Smoke” Tyler and 6-foot-5 post player Darryl Little. Tyler provided the outside shooting touch and Little has hit the boards hard for the Tigers, an element they lacked in this season’s first half.
On Wednesday, Tyler and teammate James Dewitt led the Tigers to a good first-half showing. Oxford, conference winners the last four years, hung in with SC and they cut the lead to 32-30 as Alex Ordu sank a 3-pointer with a minute remaining in the first half. Tyler came right back and sank his own trey to boost the Tigers’ lead to 35-30 with 30 seconds left. SC’s Rodney Gilbert then made a nice assist to Dewitt for a layup and then got another layup at the halftime buzzer to give the Tigers a 39-32 lead.
The second half of the game was tight all the way. A three-point play by from Oxford’s Mitchell Lee tied the game at 45-all with 14:43 left in the game. Tigers point guard Trae Critten sank a trey to give SC the 50-47 lead minutes later and that jump-started the home team’s run.
Oxford cut the lead to 50-49 seconds later, but the Eagles would get no closer. A layup by Little ended a 7-1 SC run to push the lead to 57-50 and the Tigers kept Oxford at bay. The Eagles got within three points on a few occasions and even cut it to two points — 66-64 — with 34 seconds remaining. But Critten swished a free throw to make it 67-64 and after an Oxford turnover, Tigers reserve guard Ignacio Hood sank two free throws to give SC the 69-64 lead with 26.3 seconds left. Hood then got a huge steal and Little ended up making the Tigers’ final two free throws for the 71-64 final margin.
“I just went to the line and said that my two free throws would be money. Confidence is key,” Hood said. “We had the mental toughness to win tonight. It’s great to be in first place, but we have to get back at it and get better each day.”
Dewitt led SC with 16 points and 9 rebounds, Tyler scored 13 and dished out 3 assists, Little had 12 points and 13 rebounds and Gilbert chipped in 9 points and 2 assists. Critten also led SC with 6 assists.
Ordu led Oxford with 21 points and Kevin Tolbert added 17 for the Eagles.
The Tigers get back into action Feb. 2 against conference foe West Georgia Tech at Taylor Street gym at 7:30 p.m.