No. 20 Patriots face rival Catawba Valley for Region X title berth

March 4, 2016

PINEHURST, N.C. — The Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) men’s basketball team meets Catawba Valley Community College today (Mar. 4) for the second time in just over a week and the third time in less than a month. That only intensifies an already charged Region X rivalry.

The teams will settle the rubber game of the season in the conference semifinals at 2 p.m. in Heins Gymnasium at Sandhills Community College. The only loss the Red Hawks suffered in February was a 73-70 defeat to the Patriots in Martinsville on Feb. 24 to close the regular season.

The victory capped PHCC’s regular season with four straight wins while it snapped Catawba Valley’s six-game win streak. The Patriots won their last four games of the regular season by an average of three points per game, and dealing with close games this season has been the norm, playing 17 decided by six points or less, winning 14.

PHCC beat the quarterfinal host Richard Bland College 64-52 on Feb. 28 while Catawba Valley dismantled Region 8 champ Pasco-Hernando State College 113-77. There is much on the line in what should be a charged atmosphere for the No. 2 and 3 seeds in the tournament. Patriots head coach Kenny Wade said one goal for his team was to play for a conference title and it’s now one win away.

“I look for the game to have a high level of intensity from both teams,” said Wade. “It should be a great game being on a neutral court.”

PHCC scored 44 second-half points in the first meeting in Hickory, N.C. on Feb. 10. It couldn’t erase a 13-point deficit, however, as the Patriots had one of their lowest first-half totals of the season in a 66-64 loss. Freshman Ta’vion Petty (South Boston, Va.) hit a winning 3-pointer in the regular season finale two weeks later to give PHCC a 73-70 victory.

The Patriots (22-5) shot 41 percent in the two meetings with CVCC this season. They’ve held the Red Hawks (22-8) to under 40 percent shooting and more importantly to under 30 percent from 3-point range. Sophomore JaQueaz Jackson is the main threat but is just 5-for-19 in the series. Wade said being able to defend the perimeter and staying strong on the defensive glass will be the key in coming away with a win.

Rebounding has been the main difference between the two games as the Patriots were manhandled on the boards 49-20 in North Carolina, getting outworked 20-10 on the offensive end. PHCC limited the second-chance opportunities the second meeting, forcing a litany of one-and-done Red Hawk possessions.

Sophomore Shawn Duhon (Fenton, La.) has proven difficult to match up with in the post as he went for 13 points and 7 rebounds in the last meeting. Along with Jacob Traore (Poitiers, France), Henri Ventoniemi (Finland) and Paris Jamison (Martinsville, Va.) the Patriots have the right size and athleticism to dictate pace.

Wade said guard play will determine much of what happens in today’s semifinal. Freshman Patriot point guard Keyshawn Johnson (South Boston, Va.) scored 17 points on the road and assisted on the winning 3 to Petty, a former Halifax County High School teammate. Johnson is averaging four assists per game and joins sophomore Jerel Jennings (Richmond, Va.) as the only players averaging in double figures. Jennings scored a career-high 24 points in the quarterfinals on the strength of six 3-pointers.

Bench scoring is another component that has played to PHCC’s advantage this season. The Red Hawks, too, have a reliable bench but have been outscored 72-38 in the two meetings. The Patriots had 11 players score in each game.

“This week I noticed our guys having a high level of focus,” Wade said. “They have been very attentive while preparing for this game.”

Filed under: Men's Basketball