The Sandhills Community College basketball team defeated Lenoir CC 89-73 on Wednesday in Kinston for its first victory since losing three players for an extended period because of a recent automobile accident.
Delton Davis, Tavarus Peterson and Zion Copeland were injured in the accident that occurred in Richmond County following the home win over Hines Prep on January 2. Davis suffered a punctured lung and a broken rib. Copeland sustained a broken hip, and Peterson also suffered a hip injury that required surgery.
"While the injuries are serious, the good news is they should all be okay for upcoming years," Coach Mike Apple said on Thursday. "I'm not going to say they are going to miss the whole season yet, but they will miss significant time basketball-wise. All three guys are sorely missed."
The Flyers improved to 12-5 with the win over the Division II Lancers and meet the Lees-McRae junior varsity at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Banner Elk.
Lenoir, now 6-9, had launched 37 threes and connected on 15 of them in a 104-99 overtime win over the Flyers at The Hangar back in November.
"I told the guys that the first time we played them they shot a lot of threes and lived by them," Apple said. "The idea going into last night's game was for them to die by them because lately they haven't been shooting them at a very high percentage."
The Flyers led 38-23 at the intermission after putting together one of their best defensive halves of the season. Winston Bryan came off the bench to spark his team during the last 10 minutes of the half.
"Winston had a big game," Apple said. "He had six points and a couple steals in the first half that really helped us get that big lead. When you hold a team to 23 points in a half, I think you are doing a lot."
The Lancers scored the first eight points of the second half on the way to tying the game at 53-53, but the Flyers stiffened and reestablished a comfortable lead for most of the rest of the way.
Bryan, a red-shirt freshman guard, finished with eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
"We had a couple guys go down and coach says, 'next man up' and I was the next man up," the product of Dudley High School said. "Coach Apple always told me that defense is the way I'm going to get my minutes. I was just playing the passing lanes and doing what I was supposed to do.
"I had to be patient, work hard in practice and wait for my turn. When my turn came I was going to make the best of it."
According to the Flyers' coach there are always two things that happen when you have injuries.
"You have to regroup because your substitution patterns and the way you play are going to change," he said. "The second thing is you're going to give opportunities to guys and hopefully they step up and take advantage of it. Winston has done that."
Chase Morrisette-Barnett, who has connected on 16 of his 26 attempts from the field over the last two games, led the Flyers with 19 points to go with eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and a blocked shot. Damauri Sexton added 16 points, seven boards, three assists, two steals and was credited with four of the team's nine blocked shots.
The Flyers are also missing their leading rebounder Calvin Ahoume, who is out for an indefinite period because of an injury to his left hand on December 8 that required surgery.
"You don't like to see guys go down, so we're all rallying behind them," Bryan said. "We go to see them in the hospital, call them and check on them. It makes the team closer because you have to bond together for your brothers at all times."
Sandhills – Morrisette-Barnett 7 3-4 19, Sexton 5 6-6 16, Haith 3 4-4 11, Smith 1 0-0 3, E. Davis 0 0-2 0, Clarkson 3 2-6 9, Ratliff 0 0-0 0, Grissett 0 2-4 2, Bryan 4 0-0 8, Dent 2 0-0 4, Allmond 1 1-2 4, Williams 0 0-0 0, Walker 5 2-3 13 Totals 31 20-31 89. Lenoir – not available. Three-point goals: SCC 7 (Morrisette-Barnett 2, Haith, Smith, Clarkson, Allmond, Walker)
by Charlie Bergmann
photo by Donna Ford