Coming off one of its best performances of the season the night before, the Sandhills Flyers made barely one out of four shots in the first half on Thursday and went on to drop an 84-73 decision to visiting Clinton College.
The Flyers (15-6) had won eight of their previous nine games, including Wednesday's Region X title clincher against Central Carolina. They went on to trail by as many as 18 points after the intermission before rallying to within four points at 73-69 with 2:35 remaining in the game.
"They hadn't had a lot of success lately so they were hungry for a win," Flyers coach Mike Apple said of the Bears (8-11) from Rock Hill SC. "We have had some success lately and evidently we've been overfed because we were not the least bit hungry for a win until about the last 10 minutes when we competed and gave ourselves a chance."
The Flyers are back in action at the Hangar on Monday with a 7 p.m. tip-off against the Francis Marion junior varsity.
Trailing 30-29 with just over four minutes remaining in the first half after a basket by Donnie Haith, the Flyers made only one field goal over the next nine minutes, carrying into the second half. That was on a basket by Damauri Sexton that made it 43-31.
The record shows the Flyers made 26.2 per cent of their shots from the field in the first half against a hustling Bear's zone defense (11-for-42). The slide continued. With 12 minutes remaining in the game a three by the Bears' Kobe Reeves increased the deficit to 62-44.
A three by Haith, who led the home team with 21 points, got the comeback started. Another trey by Chase Morrisette-Barnett capped a 25-11 run that made it 73-69. It was 75-71 after a basket by Sexton before the Bears scored the next five points to all but wrap things up.
The Flyers were 23-for-78 from the field for the game (29.5 per cent), including 7-for-32 (21.9 per cent) on three-point attempts. The Bears were a healthy 30-for-65 (46.2 per cent) overall.
Apple was concerned about his team's lack of enthusiasm as it warmed up before the game.
"I thought we did a poor job of preparing for this team tonight and I take the biggest responsibility for it," he said. "I think the biggest thing we can learn from this is that nobody comes into a game wanting to miss shots. However, if you're not hitting those shots you have to find other ways to get the job done.
"The only way we'll know if we learned from this is tomorrow at practice and then on Monday against the Francis Marion Junior varsity."
Morrisette-Barnett finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. A member of NJCAA Division I until about six months ago, Clinton is now a Division I team in the USCAA (United States College Athletic Association).
Clinton – Clark 2 2-2 6, Smith 5 1-2 11, Mathews 2 1-2 5, A. Williams 2 0-0 5, Mixon 5 5-6 15, Morrow 0 0-0 0, Boulware 3 2-2 9, Caldwell 5 0-0 13, S. Williams 0 0-0 0, McIntyre 1 5-7 7, Reeves 5 0-3 13 Totals 30 16-24 84. Sandhills – Morrisette-Barnett 4 0-0 11, Sexton 1 4-4 6, Haith 7 5-7 21, Smith 2 1-2 6, E. Davis 1 0-0 2, Ratliff 0 0-0 0, Bryan 2 0-0 5, Dent 1 7-7 9, Allmond 0 0-0 0, Ahoume 3 3-4 9, Walker 1 0-2 2, Clarkson 1 0-0 2 Totals 23 20-26 73. Three-point goals: CC 8 (Caldwell 3, Reeves 3, Boulware A. Williams); SCC 7 (Morrisette-Barnett 3, Haith 2, Smith, Bryan).
by Charlie Bergmann
photo by Donna Ford