National Championship Berth at Stake when Flyers Meet Owls Today in District 7 Title Game

Donnie Haith surveys the floor!
Donnie Haith surveys the floor!

The Sandhills Community College basketball team advanced to Saturday's 1 p.m. District 7 championship game by defeating Anne Arundel 88-76 at the Hangar on Friday evening.

The Flyers (22-8) will face Prince George's CC (22-5), an 88-76 winner over West Georgia Tech in the earlier semi-final contest. Saturday's victor qualifies for the NJCAA Division III National Championship in Rochester, MN on March 14-16.

Anne Arundel led for the only time on a basket by Deondre McNeill to open the scoring. Then a basket in transition by Devian Smith started a 9-0 Flyer run. Threes by Donnie Haith, Casey Clarkson and Holt Walker helped build the lead to 22-5.

With just under nine minutes remaining in the half, Sayaun Dent finished a teammate's miss to give the home team its' biggest edge at 30-10.

The Riverhawks from Arnold, MD closed the gap to 48-33 at the intermission. Later, a drive for two by Clarkson restored the lead to 61-42 early in the second half. But the visitors rallied to cut it down to seven points at 70-63 with seven minutes remaining in the game.

The comeback was interrupted by a double-technical assessed to the Riverhawks' coach. Haith converted three of the four free throws. A three-point play in transition by Chase Morrisette-Barnett, and baskets by Damauri Sexton, Haith and Calvin Ahoume highlighted a 14-2 burst that made the score, a comfortable for the Flyers, 84-65 at the three-minute mark. 

Haith led Coach Mike Apple's squad with 20 points, including four threes. Sexton, 14 points and 10 rebounds, Ahoume 12 and 10, and Morrisette-Barnett with 12 points and 10 assists, all produced double-doubles.

Dayvon Cuffey scored 25 points to lead the Riverhawks who completed their season with a record of 10-17.

Prince George's is ranked 10th in this week's NJCAA Division III poll. The Owls from Largo, MD are led by 6-foot-7 sophomore Alex Morales who scored 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the victory over West Georgia Tech. The Knights finished with a record of 15-10.

The last two games between the Region X Flyers and the Region XX Owls went to overtime. The Flyers won 75-69 in a November, 2016 home game and 99-92 in a February, 2015 district semi-final contest held in Largo. The Flyers advanced to the national tournament for the second time in the history of the basketball program that year.

Anne Arundel – Cuffey 11 2-6 25, Tolliver 5 1-1 13, Rojas 4 9-11 18, Smith 1 2-2 4, McNeill 3 2-2 8, Kern 0 0-0 0, Chase 1 4-4 6, Russell 0 0-0 0, Fakeye 1 0-1 2 Totals 26 20-27 76. Sandhills – Morrisette-Barnett 5 2-3 12, Haith 5 6-8 20, Smith 1 2-2 4, Dent 4 0-1 8, Ahoume 6 0-0 12 Grissett 0 0-0 0, Sexton 4 6-8 14, Bryan 0 0-0 0, Allmond 2 1-2 5, E. Davis 0 0-0 0, Walker 1 2-4 5, Clarkson 3 0-0 8 Totals 31 19-28 88. Three-point goals: AA 4 (Tolliver 2, Rojas, Cuffey); SCC 7 (Haith 4, Clarkson 2, Walker).

 

 

by Charlie Bergmann

 

photo by Donna Ford