Hurricanes Blow Past Flyers
The Louisburg College Hurricanes brought a Category 5 to Monday’s NJCAA battle of the unbeatens against the Sandhills Flyers at The O’Neal School gym.
After a close first half, it was no contest as the Flyers fell under a 12-0 run that expanded to 29-6 over a decisive seven-minute span of play. The final tally was a 120-92 loss that dropped the No. 1 in Division III Flyers to 11-1 on the season, while the No. 2 in Division II Hurricanes improved to 12-0.
Flyers coach Mike Apple, who watched his team suffer defeat for the first time in 23 games going back to last season’s national championship run, summarized the evening with a wintry touch.
“We just broke down in the most important facets of the game tonight,” he said. “Mentally they were a lot stronger, and physically they beat us, which was embarrassing on my part. We got behind and it snowballed on us.”
The visitors were responsible for two of the Flyer losses in last season’s 30-6 campaign. They led 45-32 in this one with just under eight minutes remaining in the first half on a dunk in transition by 6-foot-8 Marcus Freeman.
“I told my guys that if we just play average, if we just play marginal and they play good,” Hurricane coach Mark Vanderslice said, “they’re going to blow us out of the gym. Sandhills’ transition is extraordinary. It was going to come down to who gets more stops.”
T.J. Jones fed Tevin Graham for a basket that started a Patriot mini-run. T.J. Gill scored just before the half ended, cutting the deficit to 57-51.
The Flyers briefly took the lead in an exciting first minute-and-a-half of the second half. Devonte Herring fed T.J. Jones for a dunk. Jones followed that with a steal for two more. Gill then assisted on a basket by Raheem Washington that drew the teams even at 57-57.
A basket by the Hurricanes’ Antonio Robinson was answered by a Jones’ three that gave the Flyers a 60-59 lead. The visitor response was a blistering 12-0 run that included threes by Kevin Williams and Robinson.
“When we made that run there and actually got ahead of them for a second, I think we gave out at that point,” Apple said.
Threes by Gill and Jones were the only Flyer baskets during a six-minute stretch that saw the Hurricane lead expand to 88-66.
“I thought our defense steered our offensive transition,” Vanderslice said on a night the Flyers committed 24 turnovers. “We did a good job getting stops and rebounds, which allowed us to create numbers in that transition.”
The Flyers were beaten badly in transition and on the boards by the taller Hurricanes throughout.
“There is no excuse for that,” Gill said of the letdown that occurred after his team took the lead. “Coach said in the locker room that they beat us physically and mentally, and we don’t want that to happen again. We will build off this.”
Kermeriaz Harrington led the Flyers, who had been averaging a No. 1 in Division III 109 points per game, with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Robinson and Williams poured in 21 apiece for the Hurricanes.
Apple will now prepare his team for road games against Catawba Valley and Wake Tech in the Wake Tech Eagle Classic held at Louisburg on Friday and Saturday.
“There are four or five really important practices in a season every year,” he said. “One of those is that practice following the first loss. The guys all of a sudden understand that maybe some of that stuff you’re hammering on them has some truth to it.
“It’s a loss and we have to get better from it. Hats off to Louisburg. They just beat our butts tonight.”
Louisburg 57 63 — 120
Sandhills 51 41 — 92
Louisburg: Robinson 10 0-1 21, Turner 2 1-3 5, Stone 3 0-0 6, Thomas 2 0-0 5, Wilson 1 0-0 2, Shelton 1 0-0 2, Williams 10 0-0 21, Parker 3 1-2 8, Alexander 5 0-0 10, Roberts 3 1-2 7, Goodwin 6 2-3 15, Christian 2 0-2 4, Freeman 6 2-2 14. Totals - 54 7-15 120.
Sandhills: Washington 3 2-4 8, Harrington 7 6-9 21, Herring 4 2-2 11, Gill 2 2-2 8, T.J. Jones 6 0-0 15, J. Jones 1 1-2 4, Vinson 0 0-2 0, Crowell 2 0-0 6, Lyerly 1 0-0 3, Foster 0 0-2 0, Cotton 0 0-0 0, Graham 2 2-4 6, D. Jones 1 0-0 2, Peele 0 2-2 2, Slade 1 0-0 2. Totals - 30 17-29 92.
Three-point goals: L 5 (Robinson, Williams, Parker, Thomas, Goodwin); S 11 (T.J. Jones 3, Gill 2, Crowell 2, Harrington, Herring, J. Jones, Lyerly).
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