Tavarus Peterson sank a pair of free throws with 9.3 seconds remaining to break a 94-94 tie and the Sandhills Flyers hung on to defeat USC-Salkehatchie 97-95 at Heins Gymnasium last Saturday.
Coach Mike Apple's squad led by as many as 16 points early in the second half before the Division l Indians caught up and briefly took the lead. Ranked No. 6 in this week's NJCAA Division III national poll,the Flyers will take a record of 13-2 into their next game at home against Hines Prep on January 3. The visitors dropped to 8-5 with the loss.
"USC-Salkehatchie was a good team and I thought the win was a really nice early Christmas present," Apple said.
The Flyers canned 20 of their 37 shots from the field (64.5 per cent) on the way to a 59-48 halftime advantage. Early in the second half they took their largest lead at 65-49.
After making only a third of their shots from the field in the first half, the Indians rallied to take an 83-82 lead. The Flyers built the margin back to five points at 94-89 with 38 ticks left on the clock. But a three, and then a steal of the inbound pass for another basket enabled the Indians to draw even at 94-94.
Peterson, a 6-foot-2 freshman, who played at Mt. Zion Prep a year ago, then converted the two free throws with 9.3 seconds remaining. The Indians' Deshaw Andrews was fouled in the act at the 3.6 second mark and made the first free throw. He missed the second and the Flyers' Luke Moore grabbed it and was fouled. He made one of the two free throws. A desperation shot by one of the Indians did not come close.
Peterson, Parrish Stevons and Chase Morrissette-Barnett each scored 18 points to lead the winners. Peterson was 9-for-10 from the free throw line. Mason Harrell and Damauri Sexton led in rebounds with nine each. Morrissette-Barnett and Donnie Haith shared the lead in assists with four apiece. USC-C's Andrews scored a game-high 27 points.
"I thought Parrish, Chase and Tavarus all played exceptionally well," Apple said. "Donnie did a good job defending and we got solid contributions from Mason, Luke and Damauri."
by Charlie Bergman
photo by Donna Ford