Jones Sparks Flyers
The first time Mike Apple watched Juwan Jones play basketball was as the coach at Pinecrest High School in a game against Purnell Swett in 2010.
Then a sophomore, Jones gave the Patriots fits with his penetrating ability, finishing with 19 points.
“I remember that game,” Apple, now the Sandhills Community College coach, said after the 5-foot-8 freshman delivered more of the same off the bench in Wednesday’s 112-88 home victory over Rockingham CC. “Juwan is part of the three-headed point guard we have right now.
“He’s really good when he gets into that lane because he’s so small, sometimes he’s hard to find. He’s a pass-first kid and that’s really good because he sets people up.”
The Flyers (12-3) broke a three-game losing streak in their final game of the year. They had four players in double figures, led by Raheem Washington with 20 points and Isaac Lyerly with 19. Lyerly canned four of the team’s 12 three-point baskets in 26 attempts.
Jones finished with seven points and a team-high seven assists. He entered the game for the first time with the Flyers leading 10-7. He set up Lyerly for treys twice, fed Washington for a layup and scored himself on a floater. That gave him a hand in 10 points during a 20-3 run that made it 30-10.
“Coach told me to come in and be a sparkplug off the bench,” Jones said. “That’s what I try to do — push the tempo — get us into another gear. I try to do that to the best of my abilities.”
When the Eagles cut the margin to 31-20, Jones dished to Washington again for two points and then to T.J. Gill for three. Lyles’ fourth three was part of another burst that added up to a 56-34 lead at the intermission.
“We just had to get back to really pressuring the ball,” Jones said of the team’s strong performance on defense in the first half. “Coach Apple said we got away from that and it helps. Coach knows what he’s talking about.”
With seven alumni from last season’s NJCAA Division III championship team looking on, the Flyers stretched their advantage to 35 points at 90-55 midway through the second half on another three by Gill.
“We started off better than the last three games, but we still gave up too many points,” Apple said in summing things up. “We have to play better defensively and I think they understand that.
“The other thing is to play hard all the time. When you start taking the foot off the gas pedal in spots sometimes, when you want to turn it up, it’s just not there.”
The Flyers defeated the Eagles (3-6) for the second time this season. The visitors were led by Mike Smith with 21 points and Jamell Artis with 20.
Also in double figures for the winners were Kermeriaz Harrington with 16 and Tevin Graham with 13.
Harrington also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, blocked three shots and had two steals.
The competition in practice among a strong group of Flyer point guards and shooting guards is intense.
“Me and Devonte (Herring) get after it, Montre’l (Cooke) and I get after it,” Juwan Jones said of the other point guards. “We’re all competitors and pushing each other makes us better.”
The next game is at home against Hines Academy on Jan. 3. Region X Conference play begins two days later with a game at Caldwell CC.
Perennial Region 10 rival Davidson County CC is off to a 12-2 start. The Flyers are scheduled to entertain the Storm on Jan. 16.
Rockingham 34 54 — 88
Sandhills 56 56 — 112
Rockingham: Artis 8 1-4 20, Smith 7 3-4 21, Dennis 1 3-4 5, D. Broadnax 2 4-6 9, M. Broadnax 6 2-2 14, Neal 1 1-1 3, Williamson 7 2-2 16. Totals 32 16-23 88.
Sandhills: Washington 9 2-3 20, Harrington 5 3-4 16, Herring 3 0-0 8, Gill 2 2-2 8, T.J. Jones 2 1-4 5, J. Jones 3 1-1 7, Vinson 1 5-6 8, Lyerly 7 1-2 19, Cotton 0 0-0 0, Culbertson 3 0-0 6, Graham 5 3-4 13, Cooke 0 2-4 2. Totals 40 20-30 112.
Three-point goals: RCC 8 (Smith 4, Artis 3, D. Broadnax); SCC 12 (Lyerly 4, Harrington 3, Herring 2, Gill 2, Vinson).
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