Trailing by as many as eight points in the first half, the Sandhills Community College basketball team held Central Carolina CC to just nine field goals after the intermission and pulled away to win the Region 10 tournament title 98-68 Sunday at The Hangar.
Region 10 Player of the Year Sayaun Dent led the Flyers with an all-around performance that included 20 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. While shutting down the visitors, coach Mike Apple’s squad made 62 percent of its shots from the field in the second half.
“I told the guys we got severely tested in the first half,” the coach said afterward. “Hats off to Central Carolina. They shot the ball outstanding. Every time we scored, they came back and scored. They had an answer for everything we threw against them.
“I think we wore them down in the second half with our numbers. We held them to 22 points and that was a credit to our guys hawking the ball, pursuing and really competing.”
A journey that has so far produced a record of 30-2, and a No. 1 national ranking, continues Saturday at 1 p.m. when the Flyers entertain Anne Arundel CC of Arnold, Md., in the Mid-Atlantic District Championship Game. The Riverhawks, now 9-16 on the season, were 84-79 upset winners over nationally-ranked Prince George’s CC in the Region 20 title contest.
This Saturday’s winner earns an automatic berth in the NJCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship to be held in Rochester, Minn., March 11-14. In addition to the eight district champions, four at large teams will be selected this year, increasing the tournament field to 12.
Before another large crowd, the game appeared to be proceeding according to form against a team the Flyers beat twice during the regular season, when Evan Davis and Dent muscled their way to consecutive put-backs and an early 19-9 lead.
But the Cougars, who completed their season with a record of 10-19, responded with a 12-0 run to pull ahead 21-19.
With 5:25 remaining in the half, the Flyers were looking at a 41-33 deficit, following a basket in transition by the Cougars’ Tre’ Richardson. Then, an old fashioned three-point play by Dent, and a trey by Savion Staton, stopped the bleeding. The Flyers went on to take a 47-46 lead into the intermission.
“I was surprised, but we already knew they came to play,” said Derreco Miller, who received a pass from Corry Addison and dunked the ball to put the Flyers back in front. “We had a couple of turnovers, but I knew we were going to get back into our groove.”
The lead changed hands twice at the beginning of the second half before Miller and Addison collaborated again to put the Flyers in front for good at 52-51.
Leading 60-55 moments later, the Flyer defense began wrecking havoc. Steals by Nathan Yow, Tyrell Allmond, Niem Ratliffe and Staton contributed to a 20-5 run the Cougars were unable to recover from.
“There were good individual performances from a lot of guys,” Apple said. “I can’t say enough about our perimeter defensive players like Tyrell, Savion, Elijah (Idlett), Corry and Niem. When those guys really put the pressure on the ball it puts a lot of pressure on their offense to get going.”
Miller and Idlett each finished with 15 points. A productive outing for Allmond added up to 10 points, six assists and four steals.
The Flyers may have been anticipating a district rematch next Saturday against a Prince George’s team they defeated last year to qualify for the national tournament. But it is unlikely they will take Anne Arundel lightly.
“Our goal is to get to Minnesota, so anything that stands in the way, we have to get through it,” Dent said.
Apple added, “Looking back, what makes this team so special is we did not underestimate anyone. For 32 games we pretty much came to play, and we played hard, and this is what we have to show for it.”
The Flyers advanced to Sunday’s championship Game with a 95-64 victory over Johnston CC Saturday afternoon at The Hangar.
Led by Dent with 17 points and Idlett with 16, the Flyers took advantage of 24 Jaguar turnovers to pull away in the second half and win their 13th consecutive game. Addison and Staton were each credited with four steals. Staton also led the winners with six assists.
Central Carolina CC (10-18) was a 98-89 winner over Oxford Emory (Ga.) in Saturday’s other semifinal contest.
The Flyer non-starters accounted for 54 points. Other double-figure scorers were Allmond with 12 points, and Cameron Williams and Cameron Richardson, with 11 each. Eric Alvey finished with 21 for the Jags who completed their season with a record of 10-16.
Prior to the game, Dent was honored as the Region 10 Player of the year and Apple as the Region 10 Coach of the Year.
Central Carolina – Butler 2 1-1 5, Womble 6 4-6 18, Morgan 5 0-0 13, Richardson 4 0-0 9, Thiam 3 1-1 7, Harris 0 0-0 0, Bell 2 0-0 5, White 5 0-0 11 Totals 27 6-8 68.
Sandhills – Idlett 5 3-5 15, Dent 8 3-3 20, Bryan 1 1-1 3, Addison 5 0-0 10, Miller 6 2-2 15, Ratliffe 0 1-2 1, Staton 4 0-0 9, Allmond 4 1-2 10, Yow 1 0-0 3, Bailey 0 0-1 0, Williams 1 2-2 4, Richardson 2 0-0 4, Davis 1 0-1 2, Medins 1 0-0 2 Totals 39 13-19 98.
Three-point goals: CCCC 8 (Morgan 3, Womble 2, Bell, White); SCC 7 (Idlett 2, Dent, Miller, Staton, Allmond, Yow).
This article was provided by the SCC athletics department.