Following a recent game Sandhills basketball coach Mike Apple predicted that Davidson County CC would score 150 points if his team didn't improve its transition defense.
In a high intensity atmosphere at Heins Gymnasium on Wednesday, the Flyers throttled the attack of the No. 3 highest scoring team in NJCAA Division III almost from start to finish. With the teams tied at 63-63 with nine minutes remaining in the game, the offensive part of the equation also kicked in for the home side as it built up a 22-point lead on the way to a 101-86 Region X conference victory.
All five starters scored in double figures led by Parrish Stevons with 20 points, Shane Garrison with 16 and Donnie Haith with 15 as the No. 9 ranked Flyers improved to 9-1 overall and 2-0 in Region X. The No. 5 Storm dropped to 7-3 and 1-1. The Flyers are right back in action on Thursday to host Mount Zion Prep of Durham in a 7 p.m. start.
The largest run the visitors were able to muster over the first 39 minutes of action amounted to five points as the defensive consistency Apple was seeking materialized just in time for the most important game of the early season.
"I thought we did a good job in defensive transition of limiting their number of easy baskets," the coach said afterward. "We also did a good job of keeping our hands up to prevent them from getting good looks at the rim and identifying who their shooters are. For the most part we made them work their offense to score."
One of those five-point runs gave the visitors a 43-35 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. But 6-foot-8 Mason Harrell turned a drive down the middle into a three-point play, sparking an 8-0 Flyer burst that sent the teams to the locker rooms tied at the intermission.
The intensity on the court remained at a fever pitch, contributing to some ragged play, and more fouls than baskets, early in the second half.
"We came out and it was loud and the fans were into it," Garrison said. "That got us into it even more than we already were."
Four baskets by the 6-6 forward helped the Flyers build an eight-point margin, but the Storm bounced back to retake the lead for the final time at 63-61.
A basket inside by Garrison, who ended up making eight of his 10 shots from the field, tied the game at 63-63. Then another three-point play by Harrell added to an 11-0 run that made it 72-63 with just under eight minutes remaining.
Later, with one second remaining on the shot clock Stevons received an inbound pass from Tavarus Peterson under his basket and drained a three to give the Flyers their first double-digit lead at 77-66. Just over two minutes remained in the game when a pair of free throws by Stevons, and a basket by Chase Morrissette-Barnett, made it 92-73, capping the game-breaking 31-10 run.
"I'm pleased with the poise we showed offensively," Apple said of his team's 58-point second half production. "Our effort level was consistent that whole half."
The Flyers finished with a season-high 28 assists led by Morrissette-Barnett with seven and Stevons with six. Juwaan Childs grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
Stevons spent the majority of his 30-plus minutes on the court tracking the Storm's leading scorer, and fifth most prolific three-point shooter in the country, Brandon Rothrock. The 5-11 guard finished with 22 points, but nine of them came after the Flyer lead reached 20 points.
"I can't say enough about Parrish," Apple said of the 6-1 red-shirt sophomore guard. "He played a lot of minutes at a really high level. I thought Shane with his energy was really good for us tonight and Tavarus provided a good spark with his tough play off the bench."
The Flyers' coach will be happy with Stevon's summation of the game.
"Defense was the key," Stevons said. "We played hard together and got the win. It feels good."
Flyer Extra - Splitting the minutes at the point guard position, Haith and Casey Clarkson combined for 20 points, five assists and just one turnover. "I'm a freshman so everybody was telling me this was going to be the most intense game of all like last year in high school when I played against Richmond," Haith a product of Pinecrest High School said. "That's how this felt to me." During a halftime ceremony led by athletic director Aaron Denton, Josh Smith, now a member of the basketball team at Fayetteville State, was honored as the college's 2016-17 Louis M. Brown, Sr. Student-Athlete of the Year. Smith has started all six games for the Broncos.
Davidson – Rothrock 7 4-4 22, Kelsey 2 0-0 5, Wright 1 1-3 3, Turner 0 0-0 0, Pierce 6 0-1 12, Blakeney 3 1-2 8, Raeford 6 2-4 17, Dunn 1 1-2 3, Dowling 0 2-4 2, Brown 2 0-0 4, Jones 5 0-0 10 Totals 33 11-20 86. Sandhills – Stevons 7 5-6 20, Haith 5 4-6 15, Morrissette-Barnett 5 0-0 12, Garrison 8 0-2 16, Harrell 3 4-5 10, Merriweather 1 1-2 3, Clarkson 2 0-0 5, Sexton 4 0-0 8, McCrimmon 0 0-0 0, McFadden 0 0-0 0, Peterson 1 4-4 6, Moore 0 0-1 0, Copeland 0 0-0 0, Childs 3 0-0 6, Murdock 0 0-0 0, Grissett 0 0-0 0 Totals 39 18-26 101. Three-point goals: DCCC 9 (Rothrock 4, Raeford 3, Blakeney, Kelesey); SCC 5 (Morrissette-Barnett 2, Stevons, Haith, Clarkson).
by Charlie Bergman
photo by Donna Ford