Virginia Peninsula Community College’s women’s basketball team made its final home game of the season a memorable one.
Zariia America capped a 28-point performance by sinking one of two free throws with .4 seconds left to give the Gators a 74-73 victory over Patrick & Henry Community College on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Warwick High School. The Gators (5-4) are on a three-game winning streak with two games remaining: Feb. 14 at The Apprentice School, and Feb. 17 at Patrick & Henry. The final game is a doubleheader with the men’s teams.
Against Patrick & Henry, the Gators got off to a good start, leading 21-13 after the first quarter. They struggled in the second and third quarters, and trailed by five heading into the final 10 minutes of play. Patrick & Henry built a 10-point lead before the Gators rallied.
Ceira Bell, who finished with 17 points, converted a 3-point play with just under three minutes remaining to put the Gators up 71-70, their first lead since the first half. The Patriots missed a free throw with less than 10 seconds left, and the Gators pushed the ball up the court before America was fouled and hit the first of two free throws. The Patriots had one last chance after calling a timeout with .3 seconds left, but missed a potential game-winning shot.
Da’Naiyah Darnell was the third Gator in double figures with 14 points.
The women’s basketball team wasn’t the only one to pull out a dramatic victory on the weekend. The baseball team earned its first win of the season by defeating The Apprentice School 13-11 in extra innings Feb. 10, rallying from a seven-run deficit. The Gators (1-5) trailed 8-1 after four innings, but scored three times in the fifth, six times in the sixth and once in the seventh to take an 11-9 lead into the bottom of the seventh. After the Builders forced extra innings by scoring two runs, Tyler Stobbs’ RBI single and Marco Fernandez’s sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth gave the Gators the victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
Stobbs was 4 for 4 with a double and two runs batted in. Jayden Alvarez had two hits, including a triple, and scored three runs; Fernandez had two hits, including a double, and drove in two runs; and Israel Dozier had a double and two RBI. Austin Smith also had two hits. The Gators collected 13 hits and stole five bases.
Kaden Hunley earned the victory, pitching the last four innings and giving up just two hits and two runs. He struck out four.
In the second game of the twinbill, Apprentice won 10-0. Derek Byrum had two of the Gators’ hits.
The two teams also played a doubleheader Friday, with Apprentice winning 7-6 and 9-3. In Friday’s first game, the Gators led 6-5 before giving up two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Dozier, Fernandez, and Isaiah Bracy had two hits each for the Gators, with both of Dozier’s hits doubles. In the second game, Apprentice scored six runs in the first inning and the Gators couldn’t recover. Alvarez led the Gators’ offense with two hits.
This week, they play Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Richard Bland in Petersburg, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. vs Owens CC and at 3 p.m. vs. Bronx CC, both 7-inning games at Heritage High School, Sunday, Feb. 18, 7-inning DH vs. Bronx again. First game at 10 a.m.
The Gators suffered their second loss of the season to Sandhills Community College, falling 102-79 on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Warwick High School. The teams met Jan. 13 in North Carolina, with Sandhills winning 104-72.
In the rematch, the Gators led early but fell behind 56-33 at the half. The deficit never got below 10 points in the second half. Jaylin Davis led the Gators with 19 points, Jerome Mitchell added 12, and John Lane had 10.
This week, the Gators (7-11) have their final home game of the regular season, Wednesday, Feb. 14, against Paul d. Camp Community College. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Warwick High School. The Gators play at Patrick & Henry on Feb. 17, followed by the conference/region tournament Feb. 25-28 at Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, N.C.
For more information on VPCC and its athletics programs, visit www.vpcc.edu.