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Patriots prepare for set of weekend road games

January 15, 2016

By: CHRIS PRIDE

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The No. 13 ranked NJCAA, Division II Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) men’s basketball team heads into this weekend looking to continue its climb in the Region X, Division II standings. Not only that, the Patriots also are hoping to make a statement to the rest of the conference at the same time.

PHCC travels to east-central North Carolina on Saturday and Sunday to take on conference opponents Lenoir Community College and Pitt Community College. Both games start at 3 p.m. and will mark the only time the Patriots play back-to-back days on the road.

The over 400-mile roundtrip will be one of the longest of the season for the men. Head coach Kenny Wade said his team feels prepared for the two-day road swing, but also mentioned his concern with how it may open the initial minutes because of the long bus ride. The head coach said this weekend’s trip could be one that either propels the Patriots forward or stunts some of their progress.

PHCC withstood a late second-half rally Wednesday in its last game to sweep the season series with Vance-Granville, following a 72-67 victory. The win pushed the men’s record to 11-2 overall and 4-1 in the conference. Looking to add two more wins to the conference total, the Patriots at least open with the conference’s last place team. However, Wade said his team can’t overlook Lenoir on Saturday before Sunday’s big matchup at Pitt.

The Patriots squeaked out a one-point win over Lenoir during the same road trip last season to sweep the season series. On the flip side, they were beaten in all three meetings against Pitt, including the conference tournament. The two regular season games were decided by a combined four points.

“I think we will handle this trip pretty good and the guys will be up for it,” Wade said. “I think the biggest thing is to get our legs together from the long ride. We just have to take it one game at a time, and if we do, we’ll be ok.”

Lenoir features a pair of sophomore guards in Davon Edwards and Shamar Baker, who have the ability to take over games. The duo has combined for nearly 30 points per game in conference play this season. Lenoir has two more scorers averaging in double figures during conference play, rounding out a balanced backcourt. While Lenoir may be winless in the conference and losers of its last six, Wade still expects a tough, grind-it-out style game.

“Lenoir has two good guards that we have to contain and keep in check,” he added.

Lenoir is one of the worst defensive teams in Region X, Division II, allowing over 80 points per game. It allowed 100 points last time out in a 13-point loss to Wake Tech. Wade said he hopes his team can apply pressure defensively and increase the pace of the game in an attempt to hit that average offensively.

As for Pitt, it too has struggled on defense against the conference, going 1-4 in its five games and allowing nearly 86 points per game. Despite the tough start to conference play and losers of three in a row, PCC still averages over 90 points per game on offense. Wade understands the tempo may be pushed at times Sunday, but that his team must control it as best as possible defensively.

Like Lenoir, Pitt is littered with talented guard play. Its top three scorers in conference play are all guards and average no fewer than 10 points per game. Pitt isn’t afraid to shoot as seen by its eight made 3-pointers per game and 24 attempts per in the five Region X games it has played this season.

Wade expects his team’s balance both inside and outside along with its depth to help lead it to a weekend sweep.

“We are looking to make a statement with these two games this weekend,” Wade said.

The Patriots have played three conference games this season on the road, but lost their last road game against Bryant & Stratton on Dec. 12, 71-53.

Filed under: Men's Basketball

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