Flyers Heading to New York
Sandhills Community College punched its ticket to the national championship tournament in New York Saturday.
The Flyers claimed the District 7 title with an 82-67 win over Prince George's Community College at Rockingham Community College in Wentworth.
Sandhills (27-6) will head to Sullivan County Community College in the Catskills region of New York for the NJCAA Division III tournament, starting on Thursday. They will face top-ranked Brookdale CC (27-2) of Lincroft, New Jersey at 5 p.m. in the first-round of the eight-team competition.
All Aboard: SCC Flyers Claim District Crown; Final Destination National Tourney in NY
After earning a berth in Friday’s District 7 title game with a hard fought victory over the Anne Arundel Pioneers, the Flyers punched their ticket to New York on Saturday via an 82-67 win over the Prince George's C.C. Owls in the championship tilt. Sandhills (27-6) now heads to Sullivan County Community College, in the Catskills region of New York, for the NJCAA Division III tournament, which starts on Thursday.
Each team will play three games over three days to determine the first through eighth places.
“You hope as a basketball coach that you get to experience some of the stuff I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this year," said Flyer coach Mike Apple after watching his players climb a ladder and cut down the net. "It’s been a great ride.”
In Saturday's game, the Flyer defense stifled Prince George's, blocking 14 shots and holding the Owls to 33-percent shooting. Louis Craft had five blocks and Erick Ewing and Markell Lotharp altered three each for the Flyers.
With the Flyers ahead by five with about 12 minutes left in the game, point guard Dre Huntley hit two free throws, then connected with Tramaine Pride for a bucket to give the Flyers a 57-48 lead.
Lotharp kept the run going with a putback. Then with 10 minutes remaining, Huntley struck again. He found an open Pride, who converted for two, to extend the margin to 61-48.
“I didn’t think Dre played well yesterday and Dre didn’t think he played well in the first half today," said Apple. "I think he and I both agree his second half was really good.”
The Flyers maintained a double-digit lead for the rest of the game. As the final 10 seconds ticked away, Apple began congratulating his players: “We’re going to New York, we’re going to New York.”
The tone for a physical afternoon of basketball was set in the first minute of play. The opposing centers, Louis Craft of the Flyers, and Christian Hurrington of the Owls, came down with a rebound together. Neither would let go of the ball after the whistle blew until one of the officials wrestled it away.
Back-to-back threes by Michael Collins got the Flyers off to a 6-2 start. A short time later, he sank another one, making it 11-4. Raheem Washington, who came off the bench to score 10 first half points on Friday, added 11 against the Owls as the Flyers took a 42-36 halftime lead.
“That’s what Raheem can do because he has great energy and he was able to do it two days in a row," Apple said.
Washington led the Flyers in scoring, finishing with 15 points. Daquain Towns added 14 and T. J. Jones had 12. Josiah Woodruff topped the Owls with 27.
Washington was a combined 12-for-14 from the field and Huntley was 20-for-23 from the foul line in the two games.
Sandhills earned a berth in Saturday's district title game by defeating Anne Arundel Friday. The Flyers defeated arch-nemesis Davidson CC to win the Region X title last week, putting them in the District 7 field.
Markell Lotharp, an integral part of the Flyers' run this season, couldn't contain his excitement.
"This is the best I’ve felt so far, but we’re not done yet," he said. "This was a team effort. Everybody came together to do what we had to do. That’s what it takes to win. This is a special team.”
The Flyers, ranked No. 6 in the latest NJCAA poll, have won eight straight games and 12 of 13. Brookdale CC, located in Monmouth County, N.J., and the other six teams are also ranked in the top 10, including No. 2 Central Lakes CC of Minnesota (27-3), No. 3 Roxbury CC of Massachusetts (22-3), No. 4 Bronx CC (27-2), No. 5 SUNY Delhi (28-5) and No. 10 Milwaukee Area Technical College (22-11).
Prince George’s 36 31 67
Sandhills 42 40 82
Prince George’s – Wood 2 7-10 11, Du. Leatherwood 2 0-1 4, Woodruff 10 7-9 27, Golladay 5 0-0 10, Harrington 0 0-0 0, Miles 4 0-1 9, Ayodejy 0 0-0 0, Edeki 1 0-0 2, De. Leatherwood 1 0-2 2, Savoy 0 2-2 2, Dominique 0 0-0 0 Totals 25 16-25 67. Sandhills – Collins 3 0-0 9, Towns 5 4-6 14, Cole 1 2-4 5, Craft 1 0-0 2, Lotharp 2 4-4 9, Gill 0 0-0 0, Jolliffe 0 0-2 0, Morrison 0 0-0 0, Huntley 2 3-4 7, Vinson 0 0-0 0, Washington 7 1-3 15, Jones 4 4-8 12, Pride 2 0-2 4, Ewing 1 3-4 5 Totals 28 21-37 82. Three-point goals: (P) 1 (Miles); (S) 5 Collins 3, Cole, Lotharp).
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