GHC MEN’S BASKETBALL: GHC has title hopes headed into coach Gaffney’s 5th season
Georgia Highlands basketball is proud of the previous two seasons, reaching the Final Four in back to back seasons and reeling off 33 straight wins last season. But now, the Chargers want the top prize.
Phil Gaffney’s squad begins its season today with a trip to Harriman, Tennessee, to play Roane St. before playing for its home opener on Friday. The Chargers enter the season ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA poll, just behind Northwest Florida St.
But this is the season GHC wants to make the jump to a championship, and it is confident it has the talent to do so.
“It’s a culture of winning here now, it is a culture of beating everybody,” Gaffney said. “We beat seven ranked teams last year, so it’s not just Sisters of the Poor that we’re beating. And we just got to continue this culture coming into this season.”
Two years ago, the Chargers lost in the NJCAA Tournament semifinals in the final seconds to Northwest Florida State.
Last year, the Chargers ran the table after losing their first game of the season; including an 18-0 run in the GCAA regular season and conference play. Unfortunately, they were upset in the quarterfinals last season against Ranger College 91-81. Ranger was later ruled to have an ineligible player and was forced to forfeit the win. While GHC kept its win streak, it lost a chance to compete in the Final Four again.
So now with two heartbreaking results, the Chargers are no longer looking to just make it deep into the tournament. Gaffney and his squad know they can compete with anyone in the NJCAA, and they aren’t making any excuses.
“Year three just means wanting to win the dang thing,” Gaffney said. “We’ve just been a little snake bit, Now obviously we our honored that we got to the Final Four, but we are just a little disappointed that when we got there it did not go our way.”
The Chargers are led by their two returning players, guard Ty’Lik Evans and forward Kyvon Davenport.
Evans ran point guard last season while averaging 14.9 points and 5 assists per game, while Davenport posted 14 points and nine rebounds per game.
Evans’s quick first step and Davenport’s post game caused problems for opponents, but they also spent time learning as freshmen. Both said they were able to play a more team-efficient game by listening to Gaffney and former sophomores like Donial Dean.
GHC has plenty of new talent, including Stetson transfer Ty Cockfield and North Florida transfer D’Andre Bernard.
Cockfield led Georgia in scoring while playing at Johnson High in Gainesville two years ago, and Bernard was one of the top prospects in Canada coming out of 2015.
Evans and Davenport want those players to play their own game, but do it in the winning style that has brought the Chargers success.
“We just need to get our team chemistry right, so that once we get in the game we know what we’re doing,” Davenport said. “Then once we’re playing together, everyone’s skills will fall into place.”