BY CHAD DARE email@example.com
---- — DANVILLE — Wayne County coach Rogeric Turner thought the final 10 seconds of his team’s 56-53 victory over Carl Sandburg College felt more like 30 seconds.
That’s because Carl Sandburg forward Aaron Powers had two shots from 3-point range to send the game into overtime. Thankfully for the Wildcats, neither shot was on the mark as Wayne County claimed its first-ever victory in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament at the Mary Miller Gymnasium on the campus of Danville Area Community College.
“I didn’t want to see a 3-ball go up and what do we do, we run underneath to get the guy under the basket and gave up a 3-ball look at the end,’’ said Turner. “Each of my players pointed at each other. That’s something we have to talk about. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again. We dodged a major bullet this morning.’’
Powers, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds for the Chargers, actually opened the game with a 3-pointer and he was trying to send it into overtime with a long-range shot at the end of regulation.
Carl Sandburg coach Ryan Twaddle had a different play called on the inbounds, but the Chargers, who are also making their first-ever appearance in Danville, was forced to call a timeout to avoid a five-second call.
That’s when Twaddle decided to try something new.
“We drew up a play that we have never ran before,’’ he said. “We wanted to do something that Wayne County hadn’t seen on film. The kids did a great job and we got two great looks. The ball goes in or it doesn’t.’’
Wayne County’s Paul Standtke, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, couldn’t have picked a better time for his only basket, as his offensive rebound bucket with 49.6 seconds left gave the Wildcats a 55-53 lead.
“That two was like he had hit 20 points,’’ Turner said. “He sealed his guy really well, got the offensive rebound, and then he did what he does in practice every day. He ball faked, showed the ball and went up strong.’’
Just being in a position to tie the game at end of regulation was quite an accomplishment for Carl Sanburg, which trailed 26-8 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. The Chargers for a 15-minute stretch of the first half was just 1-of-18 from the field and they also committed 13 turnovers during that dreadful portion of the first half.
“(Wayne County) did a good job of taking us out of some things and we got some good looks, that didn’t go in,’’ Twaddle said. “We also turned it over and, obviously, when you turn the ball over, you don’t give yourself the chance to play defense.
“But, we kept our composure. The kids believe in what we are doing. We didn’t stray off the path and try to reinvent the wheel. We didn’t panic.’’
Instead, the Chargers (18-15) closed the first half with a modest 6-2 run, but in the second half, they came up with a 16-4 run with Vince Gooden draining three of his five second-half 3-pointers.
“Our mindset at halftime was that they are not knocking down any 3s, so we can cheat off and help on the penetration of their guard,’’ Turner said. “They found that 3-ball in the second half and we just could find ours.’’
Dererraul Jackson was one of three players in double figures for Wayne County with 15 points, while Shaun Duncan had 13 and Tyrie Flowers finished with 11. Jackson also had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Standtke had a team-high nine rebounds.
Juwan Hubbard scored a game-high 19 points for Carl Sandburg to go along with nine rebounds and five assists, while Gooden came off the bench to score 15 points
With the victory, second-seeded Wayne County (26-4) advances into a 6 p.m. quarterfinal contest on Wednesday against Wake Tech, a 93-88 winner in overtime against Potomac State.
Carl Sandburg, looking for its first-ever win in the NJCAA Divsion II National Tournament, will play Potomac State, who is also looking for its first-ever victory in the national tourney, in a 3 p.m. consolation bracket game on Wednesday.