Men’s hoops hold off Pitt Community College 70-65

February 21, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The past week has been a defensive renaissance for the Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) men’s basketball team. The final five minutes of the first half Sunday (Feb. 21) against Pitt Community College featured another celebration of the Patriots’ most recent efforts.

A 17-3 run to close the first half gave PHCC a halftime lead it would not let go in a 70-65 Region X victory over the Bulldogs. It was the third straight victory for the Patriots and the third straight game of allowing fewer than 65 points. The men have allowed fewer than 70 points in five of their last six games.

Sophomore Jerel Jennings (Richmond, Va.) finished with a game-high 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting — 3-for-4 from 3-point range. He helped contribute to the lengthy scoring spree, as his second 3 of the opening 20 minutes tied the game at 29. The shot erased an 11-point Pitt lead in the span of two and a half minutes as the guard scored 13 first-half points.

“It was good to see (Jennings) finish the half out strong and we need that from all of our sophomores. We look to them for their leadership,” Patriots coach Kenny Wade said.

The Bulldogs forced a pair of timeouts in less than two minutes and held their biggest lead of the game with just over five minutes left in the first half. Freshman Keyshawn Johnson (South Boston, Va.) teamed with Jennings to spur the momentum change.

Wade told his team during the second timeout to stay with their 1-3-1 zone defense and just take care of the ball. Jennings said his main purpose was to create as much pressure as possible at the top. The result was a game-changing 24-3 run that bridged the first two minutes of the second half.

“I’m usually looking to get my teammates involved, but the way (Pitt) were playing me (today), they were sagging off. That just allowed me to exploit my jump shot and get to the rim and get to the free-throw line,” said Jennings who was a perfect 7-for-7 at the line. “All the focus was on the defensive end. Don’t worry about the offensive end, that will come. It’s defense, defense, defense.”

One of three Johnson 3-pointers in the second half pushed the Patriots’ lead to 45-32, the largest for either team. Fellow freshman Ta’vion Petty (South Boston, Va.) converted a conventional 3-point play to keep the lead in double figures with 8:45 left. The Bulldogs were held to 12 points for over the first 11 minutes of the second half.

Pitt, however, charged back with 4:45 left in regulation down 56-48. In just over two minutes, the Bulldogs went on a 10-4 spurt. Jennings and sophomore Henry Butler (Culpeper, Va.) then scored five quick points with a 3-pointer and two free throws after using a turnover to force a foul in the double bonus. Wade said those points were big and helped offset the 28 turnovers that nearly cost his team.

“Make smarter decisions and have better shot selections,” the coach said of how the team can keep multi-possession leads late in games. “That gets teams back in games, because if they get hot and knock down a couple treys, they’re right back in the game.”

The Patriots were 11-for-13 at the free-throw line in the second half and were 20-for-25 overall.

Johnson finished with 15 points as 11 different players scored for the Patriots. Johnson and Jennings combined for all six of the team’s 3-pointers. PHCC also had 14 assists on 22 field goals.

The win was the 20th of the season for the Patriots (20-5, 13-4) and moved them to 7-1 at home in conference play. Wade said it means a lot to win 20 games in a season.

PHCC wraps up the regular season and its four-game homestand at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 24) against Catawba Valley on Sophomore Night.



Filed under: Men's Basketball