SVCC wins fifth consecutive game

Published 10:33 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) men’s basketball team tallied its fifth straight victory and sixth in its last seven games by orchestrating a 77-75 win over the College of Southern Maryland on Saturday in LaPlata, Md.

“I think the big thing was we were able to get stops down the stretch,” Panthers Head Coach Dennis Smith said. “Our defense all year has been our Achilles heel. We can typically score, but we haven’t always been able to stop our opponents from scoring, and I thought Saturday we got stops when we needed them in the last five minutes of the game.”

The game was not quite as close as the final score implied.

“We were actually ahead probably eight or nine points most of the last 10 minutes of the half, and then we missed a few free throws down the stretch, and they cut it, but we were never really in jeopardy,” Smith said. “The final score was as close as they got down the stretch.”

SVCC sophomore guard Anthony Harris finished the game with 21 points, including three three-pointers in the second half. He helped seal the victory by providing key points near the end of the game, along with freshmen forwards Chris Jackson and J.C. Stewart.

Smith is pleased with how the Panthers are coming along after a difficult start to the season in 2016.

“We’ve got a young team, and I knew we would struggle early in the year,” he said. “We played five teams that have been ranked in the top 20 in the national polls at some point this season, so we struggled early against really good competition, and the kids are really playing well. They’re starting to come into their own. We’re playing better defense, and I think that’s really been the big difference in us finishing games ahead by a bucket or two instead of behind by a bucket or two.”

SVCC got its current win streak started off with a blowout 106-83 victory over Central International College on Jan. 14, the Panthers’ first road win of the season. But they have also shown their ability to win the close games, as well, topping Mt. Zion Academy 108-104 on Jan. 21 and Swish City Prep 86-79 on Jan. 22.

SVCC travels to North Carolina to take on Davidson County Community College on Saturday at 4 p.m.

“Saturday will be a major test,” Smith said. “Davidson County is No. 1 in the polls in (National Junior College Athletic Association) for (Division III). They’re extremely talented, well-coached, and we’ll have our hands full down there. But I’m hoping that we can give them a game. That’s our goal.”

Davidson County has put together a large number of lopsided victories this season, including a 74-point blowout of Bluefield College’s JV basketball team Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers faced Davidson County at home Dec. 3 and lost 120-96.

“And we were missing one of our key players in that game,” Smith said. “I’m just hoping we can give them a test. I think we’re playing better. (The) kids have some confidence now, and of course, that’s always important.”

He also said he thinks his team is as healthy as its been this season, highlighting Harris, in particular, who has been a scoring leader all year for the team.

“He has really gotten healthy in the last two weeks,” Smith said. “He had been sort of nicked up all year with an ankle (injury), and he’s playing well. So, I think, yeah, we’re pretty much at a hundred percent.”