SVCC 3-peats as national champ

Published 1:19 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) men’s basketball team captured the USA National Prep Postgrad championship for the third straight year with a 70-54 victory over Forest Trails on Saturday evening in N. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to complete a 5-0 run through the 32-team field.

The five victories ran the Panthers’ winning streak to 11 games, allowing them to complete their 2016-17 campaign with a 17-9 record after a 0-7 start.

“I am just at a loss for words,” said Panthers Head Coach Dennis Smith. “Coach (Vincent) Brown and I are just elated for our young men who went 17-2 during the second half of the season. The team was nothing short of sensational in our five games at the national tourney, and we could not be prouder of their play.”

SVCC claimed wins over Kingston Academy, Bull City Prep, Tennessee Prep, MACK Academy and Forest Trails on its way to earning the title.

The Panthers played one of their best games of the season in the title game, getting off to a quick start behind a driving layup by J.C. Stewart and a trey by Isreal Stith for a 17-9 lead at the nine-minute, 45-second mark of the first half.

Back-to-back treys from Stith, who finished the game with six of them, gave SVCC a 25-16 lead at the 6:20 mark, and the Panthers held a 31-26 lead at the halftime break.

Foul trouble started to mount early in the second half for SVCC against the length of Forest Trail’s interior players.

After falling behind briefly, the Panthers responded to reclaim the advantage, and buckets by Anthony Harris, Stewart and a deep trey by Stith extended the lead to 47-38 at the 8:16 mark of the second half.

A trey by Kirvell Alexander and a rebound and putback extended the SVCC lead to 59-44 at the 4:01 mark.

The Panthers went 7-for-7 from the charity stripe over the last two minutes of the game to seal the championship.

Stith led SVCC with 18 points and four steals while Stewart scored 12 points and added 11 rebounds and eight blocks. Alexander contributed 12 points and eight boards, and Harris had 10 points and three assists.

To advance to the USA National Prep Postgrad title game, the Panthers defeated MACK Academy 64-55 Saturday afternoon in the semifinal contest.

Thanks to a big second-half run, MACK opened up a four-point lead with three minutes left in the game. SVCC did not panic as Harris buried a three-pointer to give his team a 57-55 lead with 1:28 left to play. The Panthers hit 4-of-5 shots from the foul line over the final minute to seal the win.

Stewart led SVCC with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Harris had 19 points and three assists. Stith had 10 points and five rebounds.

The Panthers topped Tennessee Prep 59-53 in a hard-fought quarterfinal contest Friday evening.

SVCC trailed by two with a little more than two minutes remaining in the game when T.J. Durham scored on a floater to knot the score at 51. He struck again on a driving layup with 1:41 left to give SVCC a 53-51 lead, and Alexander scored two buckets over the last minute to help ensure victory.

Stewart led SVCC with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Stith scored 13 points and added seven rebounds and five assists. Durham finished with 12 points and five boards.

Bull City Prep (North Carolina) fell 47-45 to the Panthers in a Sweet Sixteen contest Friday morning after Harris made a late basket and SVCC’s defense held firm.

Stewart led the Panthers with 14 points, eight rebounds and six blocks, and Harris recorded 11 points and five assists. Stith and Durham both finished with nine points apiece.

The Panthers topped Kingston Academy (Ohio) 64-50 in their tourney opener Thursday afternoon.

Harris and Stith led SVCC with 14 points apiece, while Stith also added 12 rebounds and nine assists. Durham registered 13 points, and Stewart tallied 11 boards and seven blocks.