Flyers' Rally Comes Up Short Against Louisburg
Louisburg College built a double-digit first-half lead and went on to defeat the Sandhills Flyers 85-73 in a battle between nationally ranked teams at the O’Neal School gym Thursday evening.
Trailing by 16 points with 7:30 remaining in the game, the Flyers were able to draw to within seven points several times. The Hurricanes wrapped things up by converting 11-of-14 free throws in the final 2:30 of the game.
Markell Lotharp led the home team, now 15-3, with 25 points. Coach Mike Apple’s squad began the most important part of its schedule on Saturday with its Region X conference opener at Caldwell Community College.
Seven of the next eight games are against league opponents, including Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. home date with Davidson County Community College. The Flyers are the defending regular-season champions.
“That’s a great team to play before our conference schedule starts,” Apple said of the ’Canes. “They gave us a lot of looks and do a lot of the things we’ll see from teams in our conference.”
What the No. 6 team in the current NJAAC Division II poll did best was pound the offensive board.
“We knew it was coming,” Lotharp said, thinking back to an 89-75 loss last month in Louisburg.
The ’Canes (11-3) out-fought the Flyers in the paint at both ends to turn a 24-24 tie with five minutes remaining in the first half into a 42-30 lead at the intermission. Coach Mark Vanderslice’s squad built the margin in spite of making very few shots from outside.
“It’s not exactly our forte,” the coach said of his team’s shooting ability. “For our big guys, the best shot is a missed shot and we practice that. We crash four and have one back. That’s a part of who we are. It’s an emphasis and a mentality that becomes a habit.”
Lotharp, a 6-foot-6 forward, scored 16 points in the second half to help put the Flyers back in contention. His put-back following a three by teammate T.J. Jones cut the deficit to 49-43 with 14:37 remaining.
The Flyers missed out on three chances to draw closer before Daquan Langston scored seven quick points to fuel another ’Cane run. A pair of free throws by Antonio Robinson stretched it out to 68-52 at the 7:30 mark.
Jones and Lotharp went back to work and accounted for nine of the points during a 13-4 burst that made it 72-65 with 4:10 remaining. But turnovers and missed free throws got in the way of further progress before the ’Canes began their parade to the foul line.
“Battling from behind you’ve got to do things really well for a long stretch of time,” Apple said. “We didn’t quite have that in us tonight.
“The second half I give my guys a lot of credit. They played incredibly hard and didn’t give up. Another break or two and it’s a two- or three-point game. Then it’s a who knows situation.”
Jones, with 14 points, and Raheem Washington, with 12, were the other Flyers to score in double figures. Other statistical leaders were Louis Craft in rebounds (nine) and blocked shots (five), and Dre Huntley in assists (six). Josh Hicks scored 18 points to lead the ’Canes. The most entertaining moment of the evening was an alley-oop pass by Lotharp intended for Craft that went into the basket for three points.
The Flyers’ second leading scorer, Pinecrest grad Daquain Towns, sat out his second game in a row because of an injury.
“Certainly Daquain was a big miss,” Apple said. “His back is feeling better and hopefully he’ll be able to practice tomorrow and be ready for Caldwell.
None of the Flyers were willing to look past high-scoring Caldwell and talk much about next Thursday’s game against the No. 6 ranked team in Division III, Davidson (15-1).
“It’s going to be a really tight game because we’re rivals,” said Trevor Cole, who handed out five assists, “but we’re not focused on that right now. We’re going to try to get better in practice tomorrow and prepare for Caldwell.”
Louisburg 42 43 — 85
Sandhills 30 43 — 73
Louisburg: Robinson 5 7-9 17, Langston 3 0-2 7, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Chavis 5 1-2 11, Williams 3 1-2 7, Spencer 0 0-0 0, Hicks 4 9-11 18, Valentine 1 0-0 3, Alexander 2 0-0 4, Roberts 3 1-1 7, Goodwin 2 5-6 9, Christian 0 2-2 2 Totals 28 26-35 85.
Sandhills: Jolliffe 3 2-2 8, Huntley 0 2-2 2, Pride 0 0-4 0, Craft 1 1-5 3, Lotharp 9 4-5 25, Collins 3 0-0 7, Gill 0 0-0 0, Cole 1 0-0 2, Washington 5 2-2 12, Jones 6 0-2 12 Totals 28 11-22 73.
Three-point goals: (L) 3 (Hicks, Valentine, Langston); (P) 6 (Lotharp 3, Jones 2, Collins).
More like this story