Athletics News

Men's Basketball

Skipjacks make Cecil work for semifinal nod
State quarterfinal more competitive than regular-season contest

FREDERICK – Last month, the Skipjacks dropped a 93-76 men’s basketball decision to Cecil College that wasn’t as close as the final score.

On Friday, the second-seeded Seahawks (23-4) downed seventh-seeded Chesapeake College, 87-75, in a Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference state tournament quarterfinal that was much more competitive than the score indicated.

"They just weren’t going to lay down tonight," said Cecil head coach Rashad Brooks about the difference in the Skipjacks. "They had an eagerness to win, and it’s tough to beat the same team twice."

Chesapeake College head coach Joel Dearring hopes it is even harder to beat a team three times.

"If we take one thing away from this loss, it’s that if we’re going to win a regional championship we’re going to have to find a way to beat this team," said Dearring, whose Skipjacks will participate with the Seahawks in the NJCAA Division II Region XX tournament in two weeks.

Cecil used the win over Chesapeake to reach a Saturday evening semifinal against third-seeded Allegany College of Maryland.

The Skipjacks (16-10) stayed in the game by limiting their turnovers (13, compared to 23 for Cecil) and placing five players in double figures. However, Chesapeake’s 7-for-29 effort (24 percent) from the 3-point line and Cecil’s 49-37 rebounding advantage doomed the Skipjacks’ upset hopes.

"The real problem was we had guys shooting ’threes’ when we were scoring on ’twos’ – we shot over 40 percent (43 percent) from two-point range," noted Dearring.

Chesapeake, which trailed 38-31 at the half, used a 10-2 run early in the second half to pull within 44-43. After Rocky Harris (13 points) and Sam Sanders (11 points) capped the run with back-to-back 3-pointers, it appeared a major tournament upset was in the making.

Cecil, however, pushed the lead back to seven with a 6-0 run that featured the Seahawks’ usual balanced effort. The run included a layup by Charles Burley (14 points), two free throws from Khaalis Coppock-Bey (17 points), and a baseline jumper by Donn Hill (10 points).

The Skipjacks were still within five points at 58-53 after Delfawn Worrells turned a reverse layup into a three-point play with 13 minutes remaining, but Cecil responded with a 10-0 run that put the Seahawks in control.

Cecil’s game-busting run included four free throws from Jasper Holloman, two layups by Anthony Moe (17 points, 10 rebounds) and one from Brandon Bobb-Jones (game-high 18 points) as the Seahawks took advantage of their superior quickness to attack the basket.

"They have a little more speed and we lost sight on where the ball was and where our help was supposed to be," said Dearring of Cecil’s success attacking the basket.

Chad Church (13 points, nine rebounds), Gamari Mayfield (12 points, eight rebounds), and Kevin Bonsu (11 points) joined Harris and Sanders in double figures for the Skipjacks.

There were six ties and six lead changes in the first half. Church converted an acrobatic layup into a three-point play to give Chesapeake its final lead, 27-26, with 2:56 left in the first half. Bobb-Jones responded with his own three-point play, converting an offensive rebound into a basket while being fouled, and Church answered with two free throws to tie the game, 29-29, with 1:45 left in the first half.

Coppock-Bey’s 3-pointer with 1:26 remaining in the half put Cecil ahead to stay, but Mayfield pulled the Skipjacks within a point by converting a loose ball into a layup.

Cecil earned some breathing room with six points in the final 28 seconds of the first half.

Bobb-Jones hit a 3-pointer for the Seahawks with 28 seconds remaining. With the shot clock off, Chesapeake’s Akanni Salako missed a jumper with 11 seconds remaining and Cecil turned a last-shot opportunity into a three-point play as Coppock-Bey scored on a driving layup while being fouled to give Cecil its 38-31 halftime lead.

"We just have to use this game to improve," said Dearring. "We’ll take the film and we’ll teach the film."

Chesapeake will play its final two regular-season games this week to prepare for the Region XX tournament. The Skipjacks host Montgomery Takoma Park Wednesday at 7 p.m. and travel to Potomac State College Saturday to face the region-rival Catamounts.

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