Flying High: SCC Students, Staff Celebrate Winning National Championship
Students, faculty and staff of Sandhills Community College have a unifying sense of elation this week following the college basketball team’s national championship victory last weekend in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y.
The Sandhills Flyers, in just their fourth season, defeated the Cedar Valley Community College Suns of Dallas County, Texas, 101-86 in the finals of the NJCAA District III Men’s Basketball tournament. The Flyers are the first North Carolina team to win the championship.
SCC Flyers: National Champions
Action from the Flyers 85-84 overtime victory against the Bronx CC Broncos in the semifinals, as well as their 101-86 "Perfect Storm" victory in the NJCAA Division III title tilt over Cedar Valley. SCC's Daquain Towns was named tournament MVP, while Mike Apple was honored as the event’s top coach. Photos by Donna Ford.
Victory celebrations will occur on the Sandhills campus today at 12:15 p.m. in the Dempsey Student Center, and on Saturday at 11 a.m. when team members will be featured in a parade in downtown Southern Pines. Both events are open to the public.
“I am very tired, and am basically running on fumes, but it is for a very good cause,” said Sandhills President Dr. John Dempsey soon after his return from New York, where he attended the event.
“Everyone here on campus, including myself, is very excited and happy for the team, the coach and the college.”
Ranked sixth in an NJCAA Division III poll, the Flyers won their quarterfinal and semifinal games by just one point each before defeating the Suns in the championship game.
“Someone in New York who was involved in the tournament came up to me and said our team had the best players, both on and off the court,” Dempsey said. “He told me that they are a fine bunch of young people, very polite and well-mannered. I agree; these are great kids whom everyone is proud of as both people and players.”
Students and staff shared the president’s sentiments as they discussed the game during lunch in the Dempsey Student Center on campus.
“I am a Moore County native, and have supported this team from the beginning,” said student Tawnya Butler. “This win has really put Moore County on the map.”
Fellow student Michelle Mitchell agreed.
“I thought it was awesome to see how excited the team was during the tournament,” she said. “It was great to watch a small college go all the way to win a national championship.”
Other students noted the significance of the victory beyond the Sandhills campus.
“It’s pretty big for the community as well as the school,” said business administration student Ray Smith. “It brings everyone together and gives pride to Sandhills.”
Nursing student Amy Geurts said the win “puts Sandhills in the spotlight” beyond the college campus.
“Sandhills is not only an outstanding school athletically, but academically as well,” she said. “This win will be good for the school in many areas, not only athletics.”
Staff members also shared the joy.
“Have your feet touched the ground yet?” history professor Bill Pope asked Amy Denton, who was in New York last week for the playoffs.
Denton said that although she was “pretty tired” after the tournament, the event had been fun.
“I think that winning the championship after years of hard work is a great payoff,” she said. “This is a really good thing for the school.”
Denton’s husband, Athletics Director Aaron Denton, coached the SCC basketball team from 2008 through 2011.
“This campus means a lot to the community, and we have already received a lot of congratulations via Facebook and on email,” he said. “I have no doubt that as the days continue we will have an exponential increase in the responses, and by extension this will lead to a greater interest in the athletic program, making it easier to recruit talent.
“What a great validation for both the program and the players, and what a great win for first-year coach Mike Apple.”
Sandhills terminated intercollegiate athletics in the 1980s before reinstating the program in 2008. Since then, the volleyball team and the golf team have finished in the top eight in national competition.
The college bookstore, located in the Dempsey Center, is expected to have limited edition, commemorative T-shirts for sale in time for today’s celebration on the SCC campus.
“We encourage you to get them while you can,” said bookstore manager Sandra Dales. “We hope that both fans and the players’ family members will want to purchase a shirt to remember the occasion.”
Contact John Lentz at firstname.lastname@example.org
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