Beaver bounces ’Jacks from region tourney
Steals’ buzzer-beating bomb ends half, begins decisive run
HAGERSTOWN The Skipjacks shook off the four straight 3-pointers the Community College of Beaver County hit to open Friday’s NJCAA Division II Region XX men’s basketball quarterfinal.
The next Titan trey was an entirely different matter.
The aptly named Ty Steals came up with a loose-ball turnover with one second left in the first half and nailed a 55-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer. Steals’ bomb gave Beaver County a 46-37 halftime lead and started a 14-2 run that paved the way for the Titans’ 107-84 victory.
Third-seeded Beaver (25-5) advanced to Saturday’s semifinals at Hagerstown Community College while the loss ended the season for the Skipjacks (17-12).
"It (Steals’ buzzer-beater) was a killer," said Chesapeake’s Kevin Bonsu, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half to help keep the Skipjacks close. "We could have gotten that (the three points) back, but I feel like we let that shot get into our heads."
"That was a five-point turnover," said Chesapeake head coach Joel Dearring, whose team had been setting up for a final shot of its own to end the half. "When you make mistakes, they come back to hurt you."
Steals’ bomb came after he went to the floor trying to grab the loose ball, which resulted from Chesapeake’s Quentin Duncan trying to force the ball into a crowd in the middle of the court attempting to get a pass to Chad Church.
"As soon as I got up off the floor I saw there was a second left," said Steals, who finished with 22 points. "I just grabbed it and threw it up. I saw it was on line for the basket and said to myself, ’Yeah, it’s got a chance.’ "
"It was kind of shocking," Chesapeake point guard Rocky Harris said of Steals’ shot. "I just thought time was going to expire. He threw it up there and made the shot."
"That shot was a game-changer," observed Steals, whose team scored 61 second-half points. "We stretched the lead from there."
Beaver’s Maurice Lewis-Briggs, who scored a game-high 27 points, hit a jumper and layup to open the second half. After Delfawn Worrells (team-high 19 points) threw down a slam for Chesapeake, the Titans reeled off seven straight points the last five by Deondre Terrell as Beaver opened up a 57-39 lead less than three minutes into the second half.
To their credit, the Skipjacks refused to fold. Akanni Salako (12 points) twice pulled the Skipjacks within 10 points, the last time on two free throws that made it 81-71 with 4:36 remaining. Beaver, however, sealed the win by repeatedly breaking Chesapeake’s full-court pressure for easy baskets, outscoring the Skipjacks, 26-13, down the stretch.
"We played hard just sometimes not smart," said Dearring, summing up the Skipjacks’ effort.
Beaver shot 62 percent from the field for the game, including 64 percent in the first half. The Titans raced to a 12-4 lead as Johnathan Logan (14 points) hit a pair of 3-pointers and Lewis-Briggs and Terrell (10 points) each nailed a trey.
Bonsu scored eight of Chesapeake’s first dozen points and Worrells had the other four as the Skipjacks pulled within 16-12, but that was as close as Chesapeake would get. The Skipjacks’ 15-for-37 first-half shooting from the field including 0-for-4 from the 3-point line was a key reason they couldn’t further close the gap.
Harris (14 points, team-high six rebounds) and Duncan (13 points) joined Worrells, Bonsu and Salako in double figures for the Skipjacks. Taeshon Huffman (16 points) was the fifth Titan to reach double digits.
Dearring felt his team’s 17-win season the Skipjacks’ first winning record since the 2007-08 campaign showed the program is headed in the right direction.
"It’s been a good year, especially with a team full of freshmen," said Dearring, who will lose only two sophomores Harris and Sam Sanders from this year’s squad. "Our future looks bright. We want to keep our nucleus of freshmen together, get back Jimmie Jenkins and Louis Simpson (who each red-shirted this season after playing last season), and go out and recruit the other players we need to keep improving."
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