Late Rally Carries Flyers into Tonight's NJCAA National Championship Game

Photo by Donna Ford
Photo by Donna Ford

A 15-2 burst by the Sandhills Community College basketball team helped turn a late one-point deficit into a 84-76 victory over Rochester Tech and a berth in tonight's NJCAA National Championship game.

In an adjustment made to the original schedule because of Coronavirus concerns, both semi-final contests and the championship game will be played today. The Flyers will meet Mohawk Valley CC NY (29-2) the winner of the 1 p.m. semi-final over Eastfield CC TX at 6 p.m. at the Rochester Regional Sports Center.

In a game that began at 11 a.m., a three-point play by Savion Staton followed by a put-back by Evan Davis staked the Flyers to an early 22-11 lead. But playing on their home court the Yellowjackets rallied to gain as much as a three-point advantage in half that ended with the Flyers on top 37-36.

Midway through the second half, a pair of free throws by Elijah Idlett, and a basket in transition by Corry Addison, from Tyrell Allmond, put the Fyers ahead 61-52. 

The margin was still nine points at the 7:21 mark after Derreco Miller split a pair at the free throw line. But later a drive for two by Karmoga Lero completed a 10-0 run that put the jackets on top 67-66 with 4:40 remaining.

The decisive response by the Flyers began with a basket by Sayaun Dent followed by a pair of free throws from Nathan Yow. Miller spun for two inside. Then Dent scored on a putback and quickly turned his steal into a basket in transition by Addison.

With the Flyer transition game clicking now, Staton stole the ball and turned it into a three-point play that put the outcome in the comfort zone at 81-69.

After going scoreless the night before, Staton came off the bench to score a team-high 16 points. Dent, 15 points and 10 rebounds and Miller with 14 and 10 and four blocks both fashioned double-doubles.

"I thought the difference was in the last 10 minutes when we got our transition game going," Flyers Coach Mike Apple said. "I can't say enough about our bench players. Elijah got in foul trouble early and Savion came in and played a great game and I thought Cameron Richardson (seven points, four boards) was huge with some of the stuff he was able to produce.

Sayaun got in foul trouble, but he was great down the stretch. It's going to be interesting to see what we have left in the tank at 6 o'clock. I'm proud of the guys and I'm sure glad to be around for the ride."

Rochester Tech - Flenorl 1 0-2 2, Kong 4 4-8 12, Cunningham 6 6-8 18, Adams 4 1-1 9, Melzer 3 0-0 6, Maddox 4 0-1 9, Jah 1 0-0 2, Jackson 0 0-0 0, Lero 5 3-4 16, Williams 0 2-2 2 Totals 28 16-26 76. Sandhills - Idlett 3 2-2 8, Dent 7 1-2 15, Bryan 1 0-0 3, Addison 5 0-0 10, Miller 4 6-8 14, Ratliffe 0 0-0 0, Staton 5 5-6 16, Allmond 0 2-2 2, Yow 1 2-2 4, Williams 0 1-2 1, Richardson 3 0-0 7, Davis 2 0-0 4, Totals 31 19-24 84.

C. Bergmann