Focus on Sports
Twin wins afford 'Jacks opportunity to look ahead

Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007

WYE MILLS – As a rule, John Mappas doesn´t look beyond the next game. Twin wins that served to bookend the Martin Luther King Holiday Weekend caused Mappas to make an exception.

"We´re out of the play-in game, and we can´t face Allegany until the finals," said the Chesapeake College head coach, looking ahead to next month´s NJCAA Region XX Division I men´s basketball tournament. "That´s important for us because we don´t match up well with Allegany."

While some scenarios still exist that could drop Chesapeake into the regional play-in game between the fourth and fifth seeds – and a presumptive semifinal match-up with region favorite Allegany – they all hinge on both Chesapeake losing to Potomac State College next month and one or more teams upsetting Allegany down the stretch.

The practical effect of Friday´s 74-72 victory over Garrett College and Monday´s 78-75 overtime win against Hagerstown Community College was to create a plausible path to the region title game for the Skipjacks (8-6 overall, 2-1 Region XX Division I). Chesapeake is currently second in the regional standings behind Allegany, and has virtually no chance of finishing below third place.

"Coach laid it on the table for us – we beat these two teams (Garrett and Hagerstown) and we won´t have to play Allegany early," said Davon Heath, who had the winning layup against Hagerstown with 39.2 seconds remaining in overtime.

The Skipjacks used similar recipes in the weekend wins. Chesapeake countered a late, 12-0 run by Garrett with its own rally, capped by Kentrell Ricketts´ tie-breaking, three-point play with 29.3 seconds remaining. The Skipjacks then completed their comeback from a 15-point deficit against Hagerstown when Heath scored the winning basket off a great overtime pass inside from Ricketts.

Balanced scoring – Ricketts, Heath, Jimmy Mosser, Hubert King, and Terrance Wright scored in double figures in each game – and an opportunistic defense built around steals and drawn charges kept the Skipjacks close to set the stage for the late-game heroics.

"It always starts with defense," said Wright, whose pressure on the perimeter helped force numerous turnovers.

The Skipjacks drew eight charges against Hagerstown, including five by Heath.

"Coach says we have to draw charges because we´re small," said the 6-foot-1 Heath, who was converted from guard to forward by Mappas this past fall. "If I take a charge against a big man, they´re going to have to give that (call) to me."

"We have to draw charges – we´re not going to block shots," noted Mappas.

The Skipjacks have now won a season-high four straight games, including two straight without standout guard Preston Faulk, who will miss at least another three weeks with a left knee injury.

"We´re going to have to continue to gut out these type of games," said Mappas. "We´re going to face a lot of challenges – starting Wednesday night with (Montgomery College) Takoma Park. They beat Hagerstown by about 30 points, so we´ll have our hands full."

The Skipjacks host Takoma Park in a 7 p.m. contest.

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