Chesapeake celebrates homecoming with win
Fast start, Harris’ hot hand help ’Jacks snap four-game skid
WYE MILLS There really is no place like home especially after a grueling, four-game road trip spent in some of the state’s most difficult gyms for visiting teams.
Chesapeake College, which hadn’t played a home men’s basketball game in nearly six weeks, celebrated its return Friday night with an 84-81 victory over CCBC-Dundalk. The Skipjacks (8-6 overall, 3-4 Maryland JuCo) snapped a four-game losing streak all on the road and improved to 5-0 at home by sprinting to a 16-point lead and then holding off the Lions’ second-half comeback.
"We haven’t been at home since December 5th," said Chesapeake guard Rocky Harris, whose team-high 24 points included two critical 3-point shots and a three-point play in the final six minutes. "I think this game was good for our confidence moving forward."
"They played two tough games in two tough places," said Chesapeake head coach Joel Dearring, referring to Monday’s 79-75 loss at Allegany and Wednesday’s 83-81 setback at Rockville. "And we were short a few players tonight and a lot of the players who did play were banged up."
The Skipjacks won with some improvisation, moving away from their favored man-to-man defense to a 3-2 zone to cut down on opposition penetration and cover for an injured-depleted roster.
"The past four games people were running through us like a hot knife through butter," remarked Dearring. "The kids really play it (the 3-2 zone) well tonight. They showed a real will to win after that tough stretch on the road."
Chesapeake won despite a 42-point performance by Dundalk’s Alfonzo Hawkins, who entered the game as the state’s leading scorer. Hawkins scored 32 second-half points to nearly rally the Lions from a 42-26 halftime deficit, but Chesapeake survived thanks in part to a pair of good defensive plays by Chad Church in the closing seconds.
After Kevin Bonsu hit a free throw with 2.2 seconds left to give Chesapeake an 84-81 lead, Church blocked Jarvis Love’s attempted inbounds pass out of bounds. Dundalk then elected to have Martez Vaughn inbound the ball, but Church pressured Vaughn into an errant inbounds pass that gave the Skipjacks the ball and locked up the win.
"I was just trying to disrupt him make it as hard as possible to make the pass," said Church, who also contributed a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds).
While Harris and Church were the only Skipjacks in double figures, three teammates William Gilmore, Bonsu and Akanni Salako each had nine points. Gilmore dished out a team-high 11 assists while turning the ball over just two times and Gamari Mayfield just missed a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Chesapeake started strongly, getting seven points from Gilmore in an 11-0 run that wiped out an early 4-0 deficit. The lead swelled to double digits on a Harris trey that made it 21-10 midway through the first half, and Chesapeake closed the half with an 11-3 spurt highlighted by Church’s slam off a Harris lob.
The 16-point halftime lead all but evaporated when Hawkins, who started the night averaging 24.5 points per game, heated up. He scored the final six points of a 14-2 Dundalk surge to open the second half, quickly getting the Lions within 44-40.
"I see why he’s the No. 1 scorer (in Maryland JuCo)," Harris said of Hawkins. "He’s pretty much the total package."
The Skipjacks rebuilt the lead to double digits on several occasions, but couldn’t shake their guests. Even after Harris hit a pair of free throws and Church followed with a thunderous dunk off a steal to give Chesapeake an 82-73 lead with just 23 seconds left, the Lions (3-14, 1-8) refused to go away.
Hawkins sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a Bonsu free throw, cutting Chesapeake’s lead to 83-79. The Lions then pressed fullcourt, leading to a Dereck Saunders steal of an ill-advised backcourt pass by Church. Saunders’ ensuing layup got Dundalk within 83-81.
Bonsu, fouled with 2.2 seconds left, missed the first and made the second free throw to set the stage for Church’s huge defensive plays on the ensuing inbounds attempts.
Janed McDonald (14 points) was the only Lion besides Hawkins to reach double figures.
Notes: The Skipjacks, after their long road trip, are now in the midst of a three-game homestand. They will host Anne Arundel Community College on Wednesday and Baltimore City Community College on Friday in 7 p.m. contests.
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