Jack Britt Connection Propels Flyers to Win
Struggling early in the second half against upset-minded Rockingham Community College, the undefeated Sandhills Flyers got a big lift from their Jack Britt connection.
The No. 4 ranked and 12-0 Flyers (NJCAA Division III poll) led by as many as 15 points in the first half of Saturday’s matinee affair at The O’Neal School gym. The Eagles rallied to take the lead at 59-58 with 15:20 remaining in the game before former Jack Britt High School players Louis Craft, Trevor Cole and Raheem Jolliffe helped spark a 26-9 run that led to a 107-84 victory.
Former Pinecrest star Daquain Towns led the Flyers with 19 points and 14 rebounds. The 6-foot-10 Craft also had a double-double that included 16 points and 11 caroms. Cole and D.J. Jones with 12 points, and Michael Collins and Markell Lotharp with 10 each, were other double-figure scorers for the balanced winners.
New Flyers’ coach Mike Apple was very familiar with the Jack Britt trio from facing the team coached by Ike Walker during his eight years as the mentor at Pinecrest.
“Ike Walker Jr. can send all the players he wants to us from Jack Britt to Sandhills,” Apple said. “Ike does a great job preparing them.”
The Flyers' coach was expecting a tough game from an Eagles squad that led by as many as 11 points in a game played in Rockingham County about three weeks ago. A pair of threes by Cole helped build an early 15-5 lead in this one. Later, a three by Jolliffe, and a tip-in by Towns, upped the margin to 35-20.
All of the signs weren’t positive for the Flyers even as they were building the lead. The Eagles closed the gap to 51-45 at the intermission before taking their first lead of the afternoon 59-58 on a baseline drive by Pierce Moore.
“I thought we were outhustled in the first half, but luckily we were ahead,” Apple said. “Then in the first five minutes of the second half it really looked bad for us. The biggest thing we did down the stretch is we rebounded the basketball and didn’t give them as many second shot opportunities.”
Tied at 65-65, the Flyers scored 15 of the next 16 points. Lotharp was fouled on a dunk attempt and made both free throws. A three by Cole, a jumper by Collins, and then a trey by Jolliffe kept it going. Towns went coast-to-coast for two and Dre Huntley drove for a pair. All of a sudden it was 80-66 at the 9:30 mark.
The 5-11, 220-pound Cole uses his physique well to protect the ball as a point guard and make space for drives to the glass. In addition to 12 points in 14 minutes off the bench, he had three rebounds, two steals and an assist.
“It really wasn’t going our way,” he said about the time he entered the game in the second half. “I try to come in and set the tone for everybody. All we really had to do was take away their second chances. That’s basically where they were scoring most of their points.”
Cole says there is a lot of chemistry between the three that played for the same high school. He and Jolliffe are in their second year with the Flyers. Craft, who dominated inside down the stretch, is in his first year. Craft and Jolliffe are starters and double-figure scorers on the season.
“I think Trevor had his best ball game by far this year,” Apple said. “He picked a good moment to do it because we were flat for whatever reason. He did things today that really helped us win the ball game.
“Raheem Jolliffe is our best on the ball defender and it’s been that way all year. Louis gets better with every game.”
Helping the Flyers finish strong, nine different players saw 13 or more minutes of action with Lotharp’s 24:48 the most. Huntley was the assist leader with seven. Donovan Griffith poured in 31 points for the Eagles.
The Flyers face a stiff challenge on Tuesday when they travel to Louisburg (8-2), the No. 12 ranked team in Division II.
Scoring: (RCC) Ross 0 0-0 0, T. Moore 0 0-0 0, P. Moore 3 1-2 7, Griffin 12 5-9 31, Dubbs 5 3-3 17, Morrison 4 3-4 11, Wall 0-0 0, Broadnax 0 3-6 3, Alters 1 0-0 2, Williamson 5 3-3 13. Totals 30 18-27 84. (SCC) Jolliffe 2 1-2 7, Towns 7 5-7 19, Huntley 4 1-1 9, Craft 7 2-6 16, Lotharp 3 4-4 10, Collins 4 0-0 10, Morrison 0 1-2 1, Cole 3 3-4 12, Washington 3 3-6 9, Jones 4 3-6 12, Gill 1 0-0 2, Pride 0 0-0 0 Totals 38 38 23-38 107. Three-point goals: (RCC) 6 (Dobbs 4, Griffith 2); SCC 8 (Cole 3, Collins 2, Jolliffe 2, Jones)
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