The Sandhills Community College basketball team defeated Mohawk Valley CC 93-89 for the NJCAA Division III National Championship Friday evening in Rochester, Minn.
Trailing most of the way, the Flyers (34-2) took the lead for good at 88-86 with 2:30 remaining in the game on a three by Savion Staton.
On the next Flyer possession, tournament MVP Sayaun Dent took a pass from Elijah Idlett and scored to increase it to a four-point margin that held up until the end.
The national title is the program’s second in coach Mike Apple’s nine years at Sandhills. Mohawk Valley, located in Utica, NY, and the tournament’s second seed, finished the season with a record of 29-3.
“We are excited for our guys on the team and in the program,” said Apple. “The outpouring of support we received from the faculty and staff at Sandhills Community College, along with the Moore County community was incredible. I think this win speaks volumes for how good basketball is in North Carolina, both at our level (junior college) and at the high school level.
“I also believe it is a testament to how committed the guys in our basketball program are to winning and doing things the Sandhills way.”
Coming off its 84-76 semifinal victory over Rochester Tech in a game that began at noon (ET) the Flyers trailed the Hawks by as many as eight points in a first half that left them trailing 50-47 at the intermission. Dent scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the second half.
Staton and Idlett added 12 points each for a Flyer squad that made 56.7 percent of its shots from the field in the game including 12-for-24 from beyond the arc. Addison was the assist leader with 10 and Dent and Cameron Richardson each grabbed seven rebounds to lead the team in that department.
The deep Flyer squad received 37 points off the bench led by Staton and Tyrell Allmond with nine.
Dent made 13 of his 16 shots from the field in the game. Also named to the all-tournament team from the Flyers were Staton and Derreco Miller. Apple received the coaching honor.
The Flyers came into the tournament ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation for most of the last three months. They completed the season by winning their final 18 games in a row.