The Lady Chargers, who have registered 24 wins in their inaugural season, open play in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association tournament tonight, hosting South Georgia Tech at 6 p.m.
Head coach Brandan Harrell said his team is entering the postseason with three important elements: Optimism, confidence and energy.
“I think (the postseason) is what our kids have been waiting on and looking forward to for a long time,” said Harrell. “This is what the season is all about: Playing well at tournament time.”
Harrell said the Lady Chargers (24-6) will likely get an emotional boost from the home crowd as they take on a South Georgia Tech team that enters the tourney on a a four-game winning streak and is 19-11 overall.
“The players and coaches are excited about the opportunity to play a first-round playoff game at home,” he said. “ I hope that we will play well and have an opportunity to move on in the tournament. Playing at home will be a great reward for our players and our fans.”
The Lady Chargers will need Manon Cherubini, a standout from France, to continue her solid production.
Cherubini was named to the GCAA All-Conference First Team on Monday. She is ranked third nationally in 3-point percentage, and was also named to the all-academic team. The sophomore has received offers from several four-year programs to continue her career after she leaves GHC.
Cherubini and Seandre Lee have been among the main catalysts this season for the Lady Chargers, who earned a top-10 national ranking this season — an amazing feat for a first-year program.
“Everything that has been accomplished this year is a direct reflection of the players,” said Harrell. “They came here with a winning attitude and for the most part, have played with a winning attitude. It takes a ton of commitment to be successful at any level, in any situation. With the added stress and sometimes distractions of being a first-year program, to carry that winning attitude through a long season is amazing and our players should be commended for that. I am very proud of them.”
Harrell said it hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but the Lady Chargers have continued to stay focused and hungry.
“Our kids have worked extremely hard and have overcome a lot of adversity this season,” said Harrell. “No matter what happens in the playoffs, these kids should be proud of their season and accomplishments. I know that they are not ready for it to be over.”
Harrell’s team, which includes former Darlington standout Rachel Turrentine, has showed the ability to match up with the top teams in the country.
“I think we will enter the tournament with a lot of confidence,” Harrell said. “(But) we have to back up that confidence with a lot of energy and enthusiasm on the floor.
“I hope that our players aren’t nervous, (and) I hope we can turn nerves into energy,” he said. “The bottom line is, you have to prepare yourself for this moment. ... When the game comes, you pour all of your preparation and energy into the game. You leave it all on the floor, then, whatever the outcome is, you have to live with it.
“If you don’t win, at least you know that you did everything you could to give yourself a chance to win.”