Basketball season at SCC has come to an end. Congrats to a fantastic and exciting season. Best wishes to our graduating Sophomores, and looking forward to next year with our incoming Sophomores and Freshman!
As the clock wound down on a disappointing end to its season Sunday afternoon, the Sandhills Community College basketball team received loud applause from Flyers’ fans at the packed Central Carolina CC gym.
The teams’ bid for a Region X tournament title, its goal of a trip to the national tournament in Minnesota, and a 10-game winning streak, all came to end with a 109-86 loss to Davidson County CC.
Ranked No. 9 in last week’s NJCAA Division III national poll, Coach Mike Apple’s squad completed the season with a record of 26-6. Both of its losses over the final 16 games were to a No. 3 ranked Davidson team they had defeated at home four weeks ago.
Sandhills President Dr. John Dempsey visited the Flyers’ locker room afterward.
“As I just told the team,” he said, “we’ve never had a nicer group of young men play for us and I’ve never been prouder of any team we’ve put on the court. It’s what we brought athletics to Sandhills for to put a team on the floor that would represent this college well. There has never been a better example of that than this year’s Flyers.”
In the previous meeting between the teams at the Hangar, it was the Flyers jumping out to a 21-point first-half lead on the way to a 115-101 victory. It was a different story this time. Little went right in the first eight minutes as the Storm ran off 14 points in a row over one stretch to take a 31-7 lead.
The Flyers roared back with a 20-6 run capped by a three by Josh Smith that cut the margin to 10 at 37-27 with just over four minutes remaining in the half. The deficit grew back to 16 points by the intermission and they never got closer than 12 in the second half.
“They just came out and punched us in the mouth and when we woke up it was kind of too late,” sophomore Jeremias Easterling said.
The Storm, 27-3, advance to next weekend’s District VII tournament in Oxford, Georgia.
“We started off the game shooting poorly and really let Davidson be the more aggressive team,” Apple said. “I give my guys credit. They continued to battle. What you want to do is get within like 10 points and make another run, but we never had that run in us.”
Smith scored a game-high 21 points, including five treys. Easterling added 18 points and 10 rebounds. D’Angelo Harris, whose driving layup with two seconds remaining provided the margin of victory in Saturday’s 80-78 semi-final win over Central Carolina, led the Flyers in assists with six and steals with five.
Freshman Mason Harrell blocked three shots giving him a total of eight for the two tournament games. The Flyers made only 37.1 per cent of their shots from the field compared to 50.6 for the Storm.
A good portion of the Flyer fans that filled the Hangar over the final four home games followed the team to Sanford for the tournament.
“If this game had been played five years ago when we were still new to the game, there would have been five times as many Davidson fans,” Dempsey said. “We matched them shout for shout today.”
In the nine years of Flyers’ basketball, the 26 wins have only been exceeded by the 2012 national championship team (30) and the 2015 team that also qualified for the national tournament (27).
“It was a big improvement from last year (19 wins),” Easterling said. “It was a shame we didn’t go farther, but one day we will be proud of it.”
Region X awards were announced between the semi-final games on Saturday. Smith and Easterling made the all-region team and Tre’von Watson of Central Carolina received player of the year honors. Harrell was an all-region freshmen team selection and Eric Field and Luke Moore of the Flyers received honorable mention honors.
Based upon grades for the 2015-16 academic year, Flyer sophomores Smith, Christian Lathan and Zezva Liluashvili made the All-Region X Academic Team (3.25 or better GPA). This season’s team has an overall GPA of 3.1 which if maintained through this semester would earn NJCAA Academic team honors (3.0 or better).
Davidson –Ritter 5 2-4 14, Williams 4 4-6 12, Sanders 8 0-0 17, Tripp 5 0-0 12, Crutchfield 5 7-10 17, Rothrock 3 0-0 8, Campbell 0 3-4 3, Hill 0 0-0 0, Wright 6 3-5 15, Lipscomb 1 0-0 3, Brann 1 0-2 3, Masten 2 3-4 7, Henry 0 0-0 0 Totals 40 22-35 109. Sandhills – Lathan 2 2-4 8, Harris 3 2-2 8, Smith 6 4-4 21, Garrison 2 2-3 6, Harrell 2 3-5 7, Liluashvili 1 0-2 2, McCrimmon 0 2-2 2, McFadden 0 2-4 2, Thomas 0 0-0 0, Moore 2 0-0 4, Easterling 5 8-13 18, Field 1 0-0 2, Childs 2 2-4 6 Totals 26 27-43 86. Three-point goals: DCCC 7 (Ritter 2, Rothrock 2, Sanders, Lipscomb, Brann); SCC 7 (Smith 5, Lathan 2).
by Charlie Bergmann, Original Source
Photo by Donna Ford