No. 7 men’s hoops meet Catawba Valley CC for first time

February 10, 2016

HICKORY, N.C. — Having already played two teams in its conference twice this season (Lenoir CC, Vance-Granville), the No. 7 ranked NJCAA, Division II Patrick Henry Community College men’s basketball team still has not played everyone in Region X. That will change after tonight (Feb. 10).

The Patriots (17-3, 10-2) face Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) (17-7, 10-3) at 7 p.m. tonight in Hickory, N.C. as it’s the first meeting for the teams this season. The pair will conclude the regular season Feb. 24 at Stone Hall in Martinsville.

“I wish we would’ve played them earlier but we didn’t,” PHCC coach Kenny Wade said of the late-season meeting. “We’ll have to feel them out a little bit, but the first game is at their place and if we can go there and get the win I’ll feel pretty good.”

The Red Hawks currently sit a half-game back of the Patriots in the Region X standings as teams fight for tournament positioning over the final two weeks of the regular season. PHCC last won in Hickory on Feb. 27, 2014 with a 70-64 victory.

The Patriots will be tested defensively by CVCC’s athleticism with its four-guard makeup. Wade said the Red Hawks are traditionally very sound fundamentally and play scrappy, smart basketball. Catawba Valley will look to trap, press and force mistakes, something Wade said his team should be accustomed to by now when dealing with teams in Region X. The atmosphere should be an exciting one, he added, hoping it will energize his team coming off a 2 1/2 hour trip to west-central North Carolina.

“We need to go out there, stay composed and execute our game on both ends of the floor. They will want to force us into making mistakes, that’s why we need to stay poised for the whole game,” Wade said.

Forcing the game into a more half-court style should play into the Patriots’ advantage, according to Wade. PHCC has the size advantage in the post with Henri Ventoniemi (Finland) and Jacob Traore (France). Traore has been limited with his minutes over the last two games, coming back from a slight shoulder injury suffered at Richard Bland College. The pair along with Shawn Duhon, Ethan Adams and host of others have helped garner a 44.6 rebounds per game average over the last five games and a 17.6 offensive rebound average over that same span.

“I think if we can beat their traps and they figure out that they can’t trap us all game, they’ll have to match up with us straight up,” said Wade.

The Red Hawks average 82 points per game. Sophomore Cornelius Johnson leads four scorers averaging in double figures with 11.7 points per game. All four also happen to be sophomores.

Catawba Valley is an active defensive team which averages better than 12 steals and 3 blocks per game. However, it can also be forced into turnovers with an average of 17 giveaways per contest. CVCC isn’t afraid to shoot the ball from distance as it averages nearly 20, 3-point field goal attempts per game, hitting better than 35 percent of those shots.

PHCC’s depth could be the ultimate factor in tonight’s first meeting. All 14 players who entered the game during Monday’s 95-64 win over Guilford Tech scored. The Patriots rely on a variety of combinations and mixing up defenses tonight is another key, Wade said.

The Red Hawks are coming off a 75-72 road win at Richard Bland College. They are 10-4 this season at home.




Filed under: Men's Basketball