Flyers Blast Central
“It feels like yesterday, it just flew past,” Daquain Towns said after the Sandhills Flyers defeated Central Carolina CC 111-94 in Thursday’s final home game for the team’s nine sophomores.
Towns, a Pinecrest grad, led the rout at The O’Neal School gym with 26 points. Joining him in double figures were fellow sophs Markell Lotharp with 20, Raheem Jolliffe with 19 and Dre Huntley with 12. A brilliant performance by Huntley included 10 assists, three rebounds and three steals.
Jolliffe followed up Saturday’s 35-point game against Catawba Valley that included six threes with five of the team’s 14 against the Cougars.
Winners of four games in a row, and eight of their last nine, the Flyers (23-6) will go into next weekend’s Region X tournament at Rockingham CC in Wentworth as the No. 2 seed. Regular-season champion Davidson County CC (28-2) is No. 1. The winner qualifies for district play.
“It’s all about momentum and feeling like the rim is really big,” Flyers’ coach Mike Apple said. “On this little run we’ve been on lately, I think everybody is feeling good about the shots they’re taking, and Raheem Jolliffe has just played out of his mind.”
The Flyers were trailing 15-8 when Jolliffe came into the game for the first time. The 5-foot-10 Jack Britt grad quickly made his presence felt by dunking the ball in transition off a steal by Towns. The home team fell back by 10 when the three-balls started falling. Lotharp and Jolliffe each made one before a steal by Huntley led to another basket by Jolliffe on the fly, tying the game at 22-22.
Led by Hoke County product, Kentrel Black, the Cougars responded with a 9-0 run that was snapped by a T.J. Gill three. Gill contributed another basket and two assists off the bench to help the Flyers catch up. They went ahead for good at 40-37 on a three by Lotharp.
Leading 50-41 at the intermission, Michael Collins drained three treys to provide half of the points in an 18-2 run at the start of the second half that swelled the Flyer lead to 25 points.
Against the 12-man rotation of the Flyers, the handwriting seemed to be on the wall for the much shorter-handed Cougars even when they held the lead. All 12 saw 10 or more minutes of action. The bench has produced 50 or more points in eight of the last nine games.
“We hoped we would be able to wear them down a little bit and I think that happened,” Apple said. “I think Michael Collins’ threes shot down any hope Central Carolina had.
“I think the only way to do it is to have a deep bench and be committed to the kids. They can work hard in practice, but unless they have that carrot of game experience in front of them they won’t continue to improve. A lot of them, and especially the freshmen, have really improved and are ready to go for next year.”
The Flyers made 56.4 percent of their shots from the field and were 14-for-25 from behind the arc. It was the most threes for the Flyers since a game in 2009 against Johnston CC. Germann Bostic made nine of the team’s 18 on the way to scoring 50 points.
Jolliffe has averaged 18 points over the last nine games, making 27 of his 52 three-point attempts (52 percent). Other Flyer sophomores recognized before the game were Collins, Trevor Cole, Tramaine Pride, Louis Craft and Erick Ewing.
Lotharp, who leads the team in scoring with a 16.5 average, is one of the Flyers likely to get offers to continue his basketball career at a four-year school. His long term goal is to become a veterinarian. He and Huntley both came to Sandhills by way of Forest Hills High School.
Growing close to his teammates has been the best part of being a Flyer for Lotharp. The experience has exceeded his expectations.
“They’re my brothers,” he said. “It’s gone by too quickly, really. I didn’t think it was going to be like this.”
Black led the Cougars with 23 points. Tim Haggie, another Hoke County graduate, contributed 13. At halftime, members of the first SCC basketball teams of 1965-67, known as the Spartans, were honored.
Central Carolina 41 53 — 94
Sandhills 50 61 — 111
Central Carolina: Haggie 3 7-9 13, Hardy 1 1-2 3, Williams 4 2-2 11, Cox 5 2-2 12, Black 10 1-2 23, Clegg 2 2-4 6, Ervin 5 0-0 12, Bailey 7 0-4 14. Totals 37 15-25 94.
Sandhills: Collins 3 0-0 9, Towns 12 1-1 26, Craft 1 1-2 3, Lotharp 7 4-6 20, Cole 1 0-0 2, Gill 2 0-0 6, Huntley 6 0-0 12, Jolliffe 7 0-0 19, Washington 1 1-2 3, Jones 1 0-0 3, Pride 2 0-0 4, Ewing 1 2-2 4, Morrison 0 0-0 0, Vinson 0 0-0 0. Totals 44 9-13 111.
Three-point goals: CCCC 5 (Black 2, Ervin 2, Williams); SCC 14 (Jolliffe 5, Collins 3, Lotharp 2, Gill 2, Jones, Towns).
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