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Rose hoops outlasts North Pitt

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, November 30, 2017

J.H. Rose guard Jaquavion Latham was nervous as he stepped to the free throw line in the closing seconds of Thursday night’s boys’ basketball game against North Pitt.

He was even more nervous after missing the first of three free throws, but the sophomore calmly knocked down the final two shots with 5.4 seconds remaining that proved to be the difference in Rose’s 70-68 home victory over the Panthers.

Latham’s free throws broke the eighth and final tie in a game in which neither team led by more than six points.

“I was nervous, but in my head, I was thinking it wasn’t about me. It was about the team,” said Latham, who finished with seven points. “It was about the win, so I had to suck it up and knock down the free throws to win the game.”

Guard Keonte’ Goodman dropped a game-high 29 points for the Rampants, who remained unbeaten at 5-0. Creighton Lebo added 13 and Ben Harris had 12.

It took JHR nearly five minutes just to get on the board and North Pitt led 14-8 after one quarter, but a 28-point second quarter got the Rampants rolling. They held a 36-33 lead at halftime and a 54-51 lead after three quarters in a frantic game that saw both teams pile up turnovers as fast as points.

“A game like this, it was going to come down to who makes free throws because someone’s going to get fouled,” Rose coach James Rankins said. “We thought energy was good, but for some reason, the ball took a lot of funny bounces. A lot of 50-50 balls went to (the Panthers), which they hustled. ... We told the guys they beat a team that played good enough to win, so hat’s off to them.”

NP had three players in double figures, led by Dequan Hines’ 18 points. Matthew Council chipped in 16 and Zaquarius Sherrod-Wilson 10, but the Panthers committed crucial giveaways late. They threw the ball away after getting a steal with 20 seconds left and the game tied, then did so again immediately after Latham’s free throws to end the game.

“It’s frustrating, but part of our character is we want to go fast and quick because when we slow it down, we’re not very good,” North Pitt coach Mark Carson said. “It’s like a learning thing. We lost to (Ayden-Grifton) close, we lost to Rose close. It’ll make us better. It hurts right now, but I’m proud of these kids.”

GIRLS

North Pitt 60

J.H. Rose 35

North Pitt guard Nyjanique Langley scored a game-high 26 points to help the Panthers topple Rose.

Casandra Watson added 17 and Ashanti Hines 11 for NP (3-1), which outscored Rose 37-17 in the second half after holding a 23-18 lead at halftime. Amyra Brown’s eight points led Rose (1-5).

SIGNINGS

Six South Central athletes signed letters of intent to compete collegiately Thursday. Five of those six were baseball players, and four of those will be playing together at Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh.

Meagan Horvath, St. Andrews: The Falcons’ swimmer hadn’t exactly planned on pursuing the opportunity to compete in college, but that all changed when former teammate Erica Holcum signed with St. Andrews last year.

Holcum suggested the program’s coaching staff take a look at Horvath, sparking an interest that turned into an opportunity for Horvath to join the Knights, an NAIA program.

“When (Holcum) went there, the coach started looking at me too, because she said, ‘Hey, there’s this other girl,’” Horvath said. “That’s basically what happened. I met him and I liked him and liked the school, so I just thought it was a really good fit.”

In addition to relays, Horvath swims the 200 individual medley, 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke for the Falcons. She said the plan in college is for her to likely become the Knights’ main competitor in the backstroke.

Scott Mayo, Wake Tech: South Central’s leader in RBIs last season will be playing baseball at Wake Tech.

Mayo, who pitches and plays first base, drove in 17 runs as a junior in a season in which he hit .353 and went 5-3 with 46 strikeouts on the mound. He said he talked to Wingate and North Carolina Wesleyan during the recruiting process, but chose Wake Tech because of how much he liked head coach Eric Sibrizzi.

“Ever since I started showcase (ball) the summer going into ninth grade, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go to college and play baseball,” Mayo said. “Coach Sibrizzi is awesome and he reminds me a lot of (SC) coach (Pat) McRae. I liked it out there, like the Raleigh area and really saw myself fitting in. I just pictured myself going there.”

Chris Mills, Wake Tech: SC’s centerfielder said he and his twin brother Kevin Mills were always going to one college as a “package deal,” so they’ll be heading to Wake Tech together.

Chris Mills hit .443 as a junior, scoring 23 runs and notching a team-high 24 walks. He and his brother started chasing the idea of playing college baseball as freshmen, then were spotted by Sibrizzi and Wake Tech during their junior campaigns.

The centerfielder said the chance to play within driving distance of their hometown was one of the most appealing parts of playing there.

“They were offering the best and it’s in the middle of everything, so it’s not too far from the house, but it’s far enough from Greenville,” he said. “That’s exactly what I wanted.

Kevin Mills, Wake Tech: The other Mills brother, who plays second base and shortstop, also said the opportunity to be “centrally located” in Raleigh was a big factor in deciding to play for the Eagles.

Kevin Mills hit .311 as a junior and scored 23 runs for the Falcons. He admitted to having doubts about whether the right college opportunity would present itself, but said he thought Wake Tech would present the best chance to perhaps turn a junior college stop into a spot on a four-year school’s team.

“With my showcase team they’re based out of Raleigh, and Wake Tech came a lot,” he said. “I really liked the JUCO process and the program, so I feel like it’s going an ideal fit for me. ... I feel like I can get myself out there because the recruiting process is going to start over again in the next two years.” 

Drew Nichols, N.C. Wesleyan: The lone baseball player not going to Wake Tech is headed to Rocky Mount to play at North Carolina Wesleyan.

Nichols said Wesleyan rescued what was a slow recruiting process in his junior year. The pitcher/third baseman hit .367 last season with 13 RBIs.

“Wesleyan didn’t really start talking to me until this year,” he said. “It was kind of a relief that people actually wanted me because I went a long time without any looks just playing showcase game after showcase game with nobody talking to me. It just felt nice that somebody wanted me.

“When I went on my visit, I just liked the culture and it seemed like I fit in really well with the guys, because they all love competition and I love competition.”

Syncere Pittman, Wake Tech: Pittman led the Falcons in numerous offensive categories as a junior, and will complete the quartet of Falcons heading to play at Wake Tech.

Pittman had to sit out his sophomore season after transferring from J.H. Rose, but he was dominant at the plate last season with a .531 batting average and team-high 34 hits. He said the Eagles were one of the first teams to reach out in the recruiting process and impressed him with their continued pursuit.

The outfielder/pitcher also considered Spartanburg Methodist in South Carolina, but chose ultimately to stay closer to home for the sake of himself and his family.

“I had to evaluate the factors of how far I was away and whether my mom could come see me play, because it’s not only making myself happy but also making my loved ones happy that helped me get here.”

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

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