Trailing 21-15 midway through the first half on Monday, the Sandhills Community College basketball team shut off the offense of the Guilford College junior varsity almost like a faucet.
The Flyers allowed only two field goals for the remainder of the half, and just nine in the entire second half. The offense also kicked into gear after the intermission and they went on to defeat the home team 92-59.
"We pretty much did what we wanted to do against them defensively," the Flyers' Sayaun Dent said afterward. "When we play defense that ignites our offense."
Chase Morrisette-Barnett with 18 points, and Dent with 12, led a balanced attack for the winners. Dent's all-around effort also produced seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Quakers wound up making just 23.4 per cent of their shots from the field (18-for-77). The Flyers made 54.3 per cent of theirs (38-for-70). They take a record of 17-7 into Thursday's 7 p.m. contest against Mount Zion at the Hangar.
The Flyers were struggling mightily to find the bottom of the net when a steal by Devian Smith, for a basket by Holt Walker, set off a rash of Quaker turnovers. Included in a 19-6 run that gave the Flyers a 34-27 halftime lead were threes by Niem Ratliff and Donnie Haith, and three-point play by Morrisette-Barnett in transition.
Flyers' coach Mike Apple credited the Quakers with having some early success in slowing down his team by running down the shot clock on their possessions.
"Offensively we are still struggling," he said. "We have to play our game and not the style of the other team. We have to keep the tempo fast and I thought we got back to that in the second half."
The margin was just four points three minutes into the second half when steals by Smith and Dent, and a charge taken by Ratliff, mushroomed into a 22-4 Flyer run and a 61-39 advantage.
"Easy offense" is what you get from stops on defense," Dent reiterated.
Dent, Smith and Clarkson were all credited with five assists to share team honors in that department. Dent and Damauri Sexton each grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Apple was pleased with the effort at both ends of the court by Ratliff, a 5-foot-9 product of Scotland High School who was right in the middle of the first half turnaround against the Quakers.
"Niem has really fallen into what we're trying to do right now," the coach said. "Coming out of high school his strength probably wasn't defense. Tonight he took another charge and he's really trying hard."
Flyers extra – A Guilford alum, Apple recalled playing every minute of a 52-50 overtime win over then-heavily-favored UNC-Pembroke in 1984 at Ragan-Brown Fieldhouse. Assistant coach Josh Smith earned All-Region X honors and led the team in scoring in both of his seasons with the Flyers before completing his college career at Fayetteville State. He was a teammate of Dennis Smith Jr., who was in the news last week after being traded to the New York Knicks by Dallas, at Trinity Christian High School in 2012-13.
Sandhills – Morrisette-Barnett 7 2-4 18, Haith 3 2-3 9, Smith 3 0-1 6, Dent 5 2-2 12, Ahoume 2 0-0 4, Clarkson 3 0-2 9, Ratliff 2 0-0 5, Grissett 0 0-0 0, Sexton 4 0-0 8, Bryan 3 0-0 8, Allmond 2 1-1 5, Williams 0 0-0 0, Walker 2 0-0 4, E. Davis 2 0-0 4 Totals 38 7-13 92. Guilford – Brown 2 3-6 7, Forbes 4 6-7 16, Townsend 2 0-0 4, King 6 0-1 17, Carter 2 1-3 5, Short 1 6-6 8, Neal 0 0-0 0, Ahlstrand 0 0-0 0, Climbingbear 1 0-0 2 Totals 18 16-23 59. Three-point goals: SCC 9 (Clarkson 3, Morrisette-Barnett 2, Bryan 2, Haith, Ratliff); GC 7 (King 5, Forbes 2).
by Charlie Bergmann
photo by Donna Ford