Flyers Rolling Along
By Charlie Bergmann
Special to The Pilot
The Sandhills Community College basketball team strengthened its Region X conference credentials by outmanning Wytheville CC 107-90 at The O'Neal School's Bradshaw Activities Center Sunday afternoon.
The Flyers put a dozen players in the scoring column, led by Kermeriaz Harrington and Isaac Lyerly with 16 points apiece. The balanced production offset big nights by the Wildcats' Jay Allen with 31, and A.J. Williams and Alonzo Howard with 21 each. Howard also grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds.
The Flyers sixth win in a row raises their record to 17-3 overall and 3-0 in Region X, while the Wildcats fell to 9-7 and 2-1. They entertain Riverside Christian Academy of Lumberton's prep team this evening at the old O'Neal School gym, beginning at 7 p.m.
Two second-chance baskets in a row by Howard, a rugged 6-foot-6 player, gave the visitors their biggest lead of the game at 12-7. They led for the final time at 26-25 on a three by Corey White. Williams, also 6-6, got into the act with jumpers and drives for 11 first-half points, equaling Howard's production.
"Twenty-two (Howard) got me in foul trouble," said the 6-7 Harrington, who also grabbed 12 rebounds in the game to complete a double-double. "He's a good player and a big body. As the game went on I focused more on blocking out, and I think he wore down a little bit."
Harrington had a putback, and assisted on a three by Lyerly, early in a blistering 25-5 run that began with the teams tied at 28-28. A big contributor during the burst was off-guard Braxton Cotten, seeing his most extensive action of the season.
On consecutive possessions, the Jordan-Matthews product fed Mike Cuthbertson for a jumper from the side and then set up Harrington for a right-corner three. A high-flying finish in transition by Raheem Washington, off a Lyerly pass, was followed by two steals in a row by Cotten that produced four more points.
A three by Lyerly, from Devonte Herring, made it 53-33 with 1:40 remaining in the half. The first eight points of the game for Hall, six of them on old-fashioned three-point plays, cut the margin to 53-41 at the intermission.
Hall, an off-guard, scored 23 points in the second half, almost single-handedly bringing the Wildcats to as close as four points of the Flyer lead at 60-56.
But the home team had a host of contributors down the stretch. Juwan Jones and Tevin Graham helped offset Hall's efforts. Cotten scored nine of his 11 points and Montre'l Cooke rang up eight of his 12 in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Cotten's playing time has been limited by knee problems.
He also contributed three rebounds, four assists and three steals while committing no turnovers in about 12 minutes of action. He was four-for-four from the field and three-for-three from the charity stripe.
A grandmother, grandfather and brother were on hand to watch him make just his eighth appearance of the season.
He was asked if he had any idea he would be in coach Mike Apple's rotation of players going into the game.
"Not really," he said. "What I try to do is just warm up hard and do everything I can to prepare for the game so that when I get in I can make it my time. It's really going to help my confidence going into the next game."
Apple has enjoyed the luxury all season of having plenty of people to choose from that on a given night that can be difference makers.
"I thought he really picked us up," Apple said. "The other thing is that Braxton is a good defender."
The Flyers finished with a 55-52 rebounding edge over their taller opponent. The Riverside Christian game is the second of four home dates in a row.
The Eagles' 10-man roster includes players from eight different states.
Next are Region X games against Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute on Saturday (3 p.m.) and an Athletic Alumni Night date against Central Carolina CC on Thursday, Jan. 31 (7 p.m.).
Wytheville 41 53 - 90
Sandhills 53 54 - 107
Wytheville: Howard 8 5-7 21, Hash 0 0-0 0, Williams 10 0-2 21, White 2 2-4 8, Allen 10 10-12 31, Adams 0 0-0 0, Pinkston 1 1-3 4, Cornett 0 0-0 0, Finch 2 1-2 6, Baker 0 0-0 0, Grasty 0 0-0 0, Bolden 0 0-0 0. Totals 33 19-30 90.
Sandhills: Washington 3 5-9 11, Harrington 6 2-2 16, Herring 2 4-6 8, Gill 1 0-0 3, T.J. Jones 2 1-2 6, Graham 3 1-2 7, J. Jones 4 3-4 13, Vinson 1 0-0 2, Lyerly 6 1-2 15, Cotten 4 3-3 11, D. Jones 0 0-0 0, Cutherbertson 1 0-0 2, Cooke 6 0-0 12. Totals 39 20-30 107.
Three-point goals: W 5 (White 2, Allen, Williams, Pinkston); S 9 (Lyerly 3, Harrington 2, J. Jones 2, Gill, T.J. Jones).
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