The Virginia Peninsula Community College men’s basketball team opened conference play with an 87-65 victory over Emory Oxford on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Warwick High School.
The win was sparked by an improved second half of defense for the Gators (4-1, 1-0 New South Athletic Conference). Coach Chris Moore’s halftime talk might have played a role. The Gators were up 43-32 after the first 20 minutes, but Moore said the defense needed to get better the next 20 minutes.
“We gave up 32 points in the first half, and I told them that wasn’t acceptable,” Moore said.
Message received, as the Gators held the Eagles to 10 points the first eight minutes of the second half in building a commanding 63-42 lead. The game was never in doubt after that 20-10 run.
Chris Hayes led the way offensively with 16 points as five Gators scored in double figures. Leon Rodgers had 13 points, and Tekomin Williams, Jerome Mitchell and John Lane added 10 each.
Moore singled out Rodgers, Williams and Lane in his postgame comments.
“Leon Rodgers played some big minutes,” Moore said, adding with Kenny Page out because of a sprained ankle, Rodgers’ role grew. “He played about 32, 34 minutes today. I really didn’t want to play him that long, but … I knew I needed him to be out there trying to keep the pace going. He’s a big guard, scored at will.”
Williams and Lane also stepped up with extended minutes.
“John Lane, Tekomin Williams, they’re both really, really good contributors,” Moore said. “Those two guys really stepped up and showed that they are able to give us some good minutes.”
The Gators are back in action Tuesday at The Apprentice School with a 7 p.m. tipoff. The two schools are organizing a community toy drive to benefit the GiveBack Foundation, a charity based on the Peninsula. Those who donate an unwrapped, unopened toy will be admitted for free. Otherwise, admission is $7.
Moore said Page should be able to play, along with Abdou Gueye, who missed Saturday’s game because of National Guard duties.
“We got a tough one,” Moore said of the Builders. “It doesn’t get any easier. We have to be ready to go on Tuesday. Having (Gueye) back and then having Kenny Page back will give us a little more depth and help us out defensively. I’m really looking forward to Tuesday.”
After the Apprentice game, the Gators play at Bryant and Stratton College at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Their next home game is Sunday, Dec. 3 (3 p.m.) against Washington Advent University’s JV team.
The women’s team played its first road game of the season Sunday, Nov. 19, at Central Carolina Community College and came away with a 68-53 victory.
“Great game,” said coach Mariah Parker. “With just six players, the ladies handled fatigue and played smart.”
Zariia America scored a team-high 24 points and had six rebounds. Da’Naiyah Darnell added 16 points. Journey Robinson had 12 points, six rebounds and seven blocks.
“Journey Robinson was a huge piece for us tonight,” Parker said, adding America and Darnell added great leadership.
The Gators (2-1) were coming off a 77-72 home win over Southern Maryland on Nov. 11. They close out November on Thursday, Nov. 30, at Virginia State against its junior varsity team. The women’s next home game is Sunday, Dec. 17 (3 p.m.) against Patrick & Henry.
For more information on VPCC and its athletics programs, visit www.vpcc.edu.