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No. 20 Patriots advance to Region X semis; beat Richard Bland 64-52

February 29, 2016

PETERSBURG, Va. — Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) sophomore men’s basketball player Jerel Jennings (Richmond, Va.) insisted the shoulder injury he suffered in the regular season finale Feb. 24 would not keep him out of Sunday’s (Feb. 28) Region X quarterfinal against Richard Bland College.

He made sure his status was never in doubt with a career day.

Jennings scored a season-high 24 points on the strength of a season-high six 3-pointers, lifting the 20th ranked Patriots to a 64-52 win over the Statesmen. PHCC, the No. 2 seed, won all three meetings with Richard Bland this season, and will face No. 3 seed Catawba Valley — a 113-77 winner over Pasco-Hernando State College — on Saturday (Mar. 5) at 2 p.m. in the semifinals hosted by Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, N.C.

The sophomore guard left in an unpleasant manner during the first half of the Patriots’ game against Catawba Valley on Feb. 17. After being fouled on a layup attempt that dropped him awkwardly to the floor, Jennings did not return but said afterward that he would be fine for the playoffs.

His stretch of 11 straight Patriots points over a two and a half minute stretch helped expunge a Statesmen charge that cut an 18-point halftime deficit to eight with 9:21 to play. Jennings hit three of his 3-pointers in that stretch and was able to keep Richard Bland at bay during a critical juncture of the game. Jennings was 6-for-9 from 3-point range in 28 minutes off the bench.

It was defense, however, that ultimately won the game for PHCC. It was the first time all season the Patriots held an opponent to under 60 points and the 11 points allowed in the first half was the fewest in any half this season. The Statesmen struggled to find any rhythm against the Patriots’ zone defense, finishing at 27 percent shooting for the game and a paltry 14 percent in the first half, including a 2-for-18 effort from behind the arc.

Rebounding and establishing the paint offensively were two components that aided in the victory, as well.

The Patriots (22-5) were outrebounded 48-40 but had 34 defensive boards that forced a lot of one-and-done Statesmen possessions. Richard Bland had 20 offensive rebounds but had just 14 second-chance points. Conversely, PHCC held a 20-10 edge in points in the paint. Sophomore Jacob Traore (France) had a game-high 10 rebounds and was a point shy of a double-double.

PHCC had nine steals and forced 17 turnovers.

Sophomore guard Henry Butler (Culpeper, Va.) had a steady game with eight points, four rebounds and four assists to help offset four turnovers. Freshman Keyshawn Johnson (South Boston, Va.) finished with six rebounds, four points and a pair of assists.

The Patriots led wire-to-wire, jumping out to an 8-0 lead over the first three minutes. A 13-4 run over the final 10 minutes of the opening half created a 29-11 PHCC lead. Richard Bland had two scoring droughts of at least 5:30 in the half and didn’t score over the final 6:22.

The Statesmen started heating up from 3-point range in the second half as a Jordan Griggs’ 3 with 16 minutes left in regulation made it a 32-22 game, capping an 11-3 run. Reginald Moses hit a 3-pointer a minute later to make it 34-25 and would make it an eight-point game with 9:21 left. It would be the final 3 made for the hosts and they would get no closer than seven points.

Moses led three Richard Bland scorers in double figures with 13 points. Both teams were dreadful from the free-throw line as Richard Bland was 15-for-37 for the game and hit 1-of-10 in the first half. The Patriots hit just 20 of their 37 attempts but were able to hit a number of key free throws in the final five minutes.

PHCC’s men are back in the rankings for the first time in three weeks after dropping out with consecutive losses. They will meet the Red Hawks for the second time in nine days, defeating them 73-70 at home while falling in the first meeting on the road 66-64 Feb. 10.

Filed under: Men's Basketball

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