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No. 13 men’s basketball entertains Vance-Granville tonight

January 13, 2016

By: CHRIS PRIDE

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Fifty-six days have gone by since the Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) men’s basketball team played its first conference game of the season.

In the course of nearly two months the No. 13 ranked Patriots (10-2) have cracked the national rankings, and are now poised to climb the ladder in the conference standings. That starts at 6 p.m. tonight against visiting Vance-Granville which coincidentally played the Patriots in their conference opener back on Nov. 18.

PHCC won the game 68-64, almost relinquishing a double-digit lead late. Patriots coach Kenny Wade said his team quickly learned how its mentality must change during conference games. Not only was it their first road test of the season, but it came on the heels of a four-game winning streak which possibly led to a misguided mindset going in.

“Your approach and mindset has to be different going into conference play, because you’re continuously jockeying for position,” Wade said. “That means you’re trying to get the best seed possible going into the tournament. The goal always is to win as many conference games as you can.”

At 3-1 – their lone loss, 71-53 at Bryant & Stratton on Dec. 12 – in the conference the Patriots hope to stay with Louisburg, Bryant & Stratton and Catawba Valley who stand in the three spots ahead of them. Both Louisburg and Bryant & Stratton are unbeaten in conference play at 4-0 and 8-0, respectively.

In the last meeting with Vance-Granville, PHCC held a 10-point halftime lead, and after scoring 41 first-half points, it was held to 27 over the next 20 minutes. Sophomore Jerel Jennings scored 12 points to go with 11 rebounds off the bench in the win, while starters Keyshawn Johnson and Shawn Duhon each found double digits in scoring, as well, with 13 and 12.

Wade said he wants to see his team put forth a better defensive effort this time around, and still has work to do on the defensive end in conference play, allowing 71.5 points per game.

“The day that we played them we didn’t play defense as good as we should have. Since then, we’ve been able to throw a variety of defenses at teams and mix it up a little bit,” Wade said. “That was something I had to change since I’m more of a man-to-man, 94 feet, in your face type coach.”

The only thing Wade is concerned about tonight is how his team’s conditioning will hold up after not playing a game for nearly a month. Jennings added the players’ main focus over the holiday break was maintaining their fitness level.

As for the matchup itself, the Patriots will look to put more pressure on the Vance-Granville backcourt which shot 11-for-28 from 3-point range in the first meeting. Chris Pernell Jr. hit seven of those 3s to finish with a game-high 23 points. Ty’Quon Reid and Raekwon Hall were two other starters in double figures with 18 and 13, respectively.

The mismatch tonight comes in size as the Patriots’ front court has been steady throughout the season. The interior presence helped gain a 44-16 advantage in the first meeting. The PHCC offense also moved the ball well assisting on 18 of its 28 field goals.

The men take to the road for the weekend with conference games against Lenoir and Pitt Community College before returning home for a pair of home games next week against Louisburg and Guilford Tech, Jan. 20 and 25.

Filed under: Men's Basketball

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