College Hoops: DCCC destroys Sandhills to earn share of Region X crown
Brinkley Gymnasium on the campus of Davidson County Community College has witnessed some stellar performances in seven years of Storm basketball. Monday's game may have topped them all.
With a share of the Region X regular season championship at stake, Sandhills made the trip from Pinehurst, seeking to put a damper on Sophomore Night and earn the top seed in the conference tournament this weekend. Instead, they were greeted by a hungry DCCC team that did almost everything right in an unexpected 109-68 dismantling of their top rivals. The game was never really close with Davidson leading 64-29 at the half. DCCC shot 50 percent from the floor, assisting on 30 of their 43 made baskets.
“We've had great shooters in this program, but from top to bottom this is the best shooting team I've ever had,” said Storm head coach Matt Ridge. “When we play with that kind of energy, play together and shoot it like that, I think we can beat anybody in the country.”
Every player that suited up for the Storm reached the scoring column, led by five sophomores playing in their final home game. C.J. Woodberry scored 24 points, followed by Robert Story (20), Gerry Hairston (15), Darius Howell (13) and Daniel Lawson (13).
“We knew we were playing for something and we knew we were not playing a weak team,” said Story, who hit five of Davidson's 11 made shots from beyond the arc. “We came in with the mindset that we just cannot lose and we refused to do that.”
Four minutes in, the Storm were up 13-8, but a blowout was surely not on the minds of those in attendance at that point. Two minutes later the thought slowly began to creep in.
Davidson scored 11 points in 2:30 of game time, lifting its advantage to 24-8. Woodberry ignited the run with a dunk and backed that up with a layup on the receiving end of a lob from Ace Chalmers. Story added a layup, then Hairston pocketed five straight points before the Flyers could finally respond.
Ranked 10th in the latest NJCAA Division III poll, Davidson continued to pour it on as the lead continually swelled. Up 20 with five minutes left in the opening half, the Storm finished on a 22-7 run to hold a shocking 35-point advantage. DCCC shot nearly 60 percent in the first 20 minutes.
“The more shots we hit, it made us just want to keep hitting them,” said Story. “We wanted to play defense to get more stops and more shots.”
With the game already decided the Storm began to have some fun. Woodberry flushed a pair of alley-oop dunks and Story made one last 3-pointer in his home career at DCCC with less than a minute left.
“That is as a complete game as we have had in a big-time game in the seven years I have been here,” said Ridge. “It is a tribute to the entire team for playing hard, playing smart and playing together.”
It was a totally different team than the one that showed up at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill Saturday. Lethargic two days before, Davidson was energized from the start, running its overall record to 21-4.
“I have been preaching energy all year, but there is no secret how important this game is and tonight the guys had tremendous energy,” Ridge said. “For whatever reason the guys had it tonight and I hope we can build on this because we have some big-time games coming up. This is the first championship for this team and hopefully there is a lot more to come.”
Notes: Davidson will meet the Flyers again on Saturday in the semifinals of the Region X tournament held in Wytheville, Va. … Sandhills committed 28 turnovers compared to only 10 for the Storm … Tevin Stark paced the Flyers with 19 points … Chalmers had eight assists and zero turnovers while Howell dished out seven helpers and had only one turnover … Caldwell tied with DCCC in the standings but will have the top seed after sweeping the Storm in the regular season meetings.