Flyers Start Fast, Roll Past Storm to Region X Crown
SCC Sophomores Break Storm Jinx
The SCC Flyer sophomores had lost four out five games against Davidson County CC before perhaps winning the one that meant the most in Sunday’s Region X championship contest.
The 104-82 victory also made first-year coach Mike Apple’s squad the highest scoring junior college team (all classifications) in the nation at 94.6 points per game. The Flyers (24-6) have exceeded the century mark nine times in winning 10 of their last 11 games.
In addition to the team trophies for first and second place, individual awards were handed out after the championship game. Sophomores Markell Lotharp and Daquain Towns of the Flyers were first team selections. Raheem Jolliffe, another sophomore, made the second team. Sophomore Deon Boyce of Davidson was the Region X MVP and Matt Anderson of Caldwell CC was named Coach of the Year.
The celebration of the conquest of Davidson will be short as the Flyers prepare to play Anne Arundel CC of Arnold, Md. in Friday’s 7 p.m. District Tournament game at Rockingham CC in Wentworth.
“Hopefully we’ll have a good practice tomorrow,” Apple said. “The biggest thing is it’s about winning weekends and not getting too high if you win the first one.”
As the winner of Region X, the Flyers earned the right to host the district tournament, but could not meet the requirement of providing a college length basketball court for the competition.
The Sandhills Flyers started fast in Sunday's Region X tournament final and never looked backed.
Markell Lotharp scored six of his team's first eight points as the Flyers sprinted to a 8-2 lead over Davidson Community College Sunday and then rolled to a 104-82 win.
The Flyers advance to the NJCAA District 7 tournament, which will be played March 9-10 at Rockingham County Community College in Wentworth. The Flyers play Region 20 runner-up, Anne Arundel CC (16-15), a team from Arnold, Md. at 7 p.m. Friday.
Region 20 champion, Prince Georges CC (21-9) of Largo, MD. meets West Georgia Technical College (15-13) at 5 p.m.
The District 7 title game is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday. The winner qualifies for the Div. III national championships to be held at Sullivan County CC in New York the following week.
In Sunday's Region X final, Lotharp scored a game-high 22 and led five Flyers in double figures as the No. 3 seed defeated the top-seed Storm for the first time in three meetings this season.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement, that’s all,” the 6-foot-6 forward said. “We’re here and we aren’t going anywhere. It’s going to be a long day, a long night, however you want to put it. We had that mentality.”
The Flyers (25-6) never trailed against Division III's No. 3 ranked Storm (29-3), which entered the game as the defending Region X champion and had won each of the last three games the two teams had played.
Sanhills led by as many as 25 before coasting to the win.
Lotharp (10 rebounds) and Erick Ewing (10 points and 10 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles. Dre Huntley 16, Raheem Jolliffe 15 and Daquain Towns 14, were other double figure scorers.
Ewing (7), Louis Craft (3) and Lotharp (2) combined to block a dozen Storm shots in the game. Craft made an early statement on the defensive end with two blocks. When Jolliffe drained a three at the nine minute mark of the first half, the Storm had only two field goals and the Flyers led 20-9.
The Storm got as close as two points twice after that, but threes by Lotharp and Trevor Cole helped fuel a 12-3 run that made it 43-32 at the intermission.
“The nicest thing to see was that we took it to them,” Flyers’ coach Mike Apple said. “We didn’t back off.”
Still fresh in the mind of the Flyers was last month’s game at Davidson when they led by 15 points early in the second half before suffering an 84-77 defeat.
“We wanted to come out strong again just like we did in the first half,” Towns said. “Coach told us not to let up.”
The Storm quickly cut the margin to five. But two threes by Michael Collins, and nine points by Lotharp, contributed to a 27-7 burst that gave the Flyers their biggest lead at 72-47 with 12:30 remaining in the game.
If there was a lingering suspicion the Storm would make a serious run, it didn’t happen. The Flyers did give them plenty of opportunities to score with the clocked stopped by fouling them as they relentlessly attacked the basket. Eleven of the next 14 Storm points were from the line, but it barely it made a dent in the Flyer lead.
“I didn’t think the second half would ever end,” Apple said.
The daggers came at about the five minute mark when Ewing scored three times in a row with dunks, two of them coming off passes from Lotharp. He also blocked his sixth shot of the game during the sequence.
“I told the radio guys that Erick is our secret weapon,” Apple said. “He can really change games when he gets in there and gets after it like he did today.”
Huntley’s speed and ball control provided the answer to the full court pressure by the Storm. Sent to the free throw line three times in a row, starting at the 3:34 mark, the 5-4 guard went 6-for-6 on the way to a 10-for-10 afternoon.
“I tell the forwards when they pass it in to just give me some space to find the open man,” he said. “When I go to the line, I don’t think about missing.”
The Flyers held the Storm to a field percentage of 31.3, including just two baskets in 23 tries from beyond the arc. The Flyers made 47.4 per cent of their shots overall. Craft scored eight points, falling just two short of a double-double. Towns was the assist leader with six. Tevin Richardson scored 22 points and Donzell Hill added 21 for the Storm. Hill also grabbed a dozen rebounds.
Sunday's win was the Flyers' sixth straight and 10th in its last 11 games.
“Don’t give up, hard work, defense, teamwork, sticking together,” were the ingredients Lotharp attributed to a win and performance by the Flyers that were signature ones for the four-year old SCC basketball program.
Apple credited his team's resilience as a key factor in Sunday's win.
“I thought any time Davidson made a run we were able to answer it,” Apple said. “When you’re able to do that you’re pretty hard to beat and we were pretty awesome today.”
Sandhills 43 61 104
Davidson 32 50 82
Sandhills – Collins 2 2-2 8, Towns 6 2-2 14, Cole 2 2-4 7, Craft 4 0-0 8, Lotharp 9 2-4 22, Jolliffe 4 5-5 15, Huntley 3 10-10 16, Washington 1 0-0 2, Jones 0 0-0 0, Pride 1 0-3 2, Gill 0 0-0 0, Ewing 5 0-1 10, Vinson 0 0-0 0 Totals 37 23-31 104. Davidson – Richardson 5 11-13 22, Brayboy 3 4-6 10, Showers 0 0-2 0, Nash 4 2-2 11, Boyce 3 5-7 11, Finney 1 1-3 3, Watie 0 0-0 0, Mayo 0 0-0 0, Bellamy 1 0-0 2, Boston 0 2-2 2, Demery 0 0-0 0, Hill 9 3-6 21 Totals 26 28-41 82. Three-point goals: (S) 7 (Collins 2, Lotharp 2, Jolliffe 2, Cole); (D) 2 (Richardson, Nash).
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