Hagerstown, MD - All across North America, there are millions of exhausted college students who just completed finals week, heading home for a much needed winter break. For Sheridan College — a four-year school in Ontario, Canada — the break has begun a little differently than usual.
Sheridan's men and women's basketball teams are embarking on a "tour of Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas" that includes playing doubleheaders in addition to visiting museums, such as the Smithsonian. A visit to Hagerstown on Sunday happened to be included on the "surrounding areas" portion of the tour, and in both games, one could say HCC's players were still feeling the finals effect.
In each game, the Hawks opened very strongly and maintained the lead throughout the majority of the contest, only to fall on the losing end thanks to a late Bruins surge.
Sheridan turned to Devyn MacKenzie — who logged just 24 minutes off the bench — for a more aggressive approach to lift the Bruins to a 66-58 victory in the opener. In the men's game, the Bruins received a pair of free throws by Jemol Edwards in the final nine seconds of the game to escape on top, 72-71.
"We kind of ran out of gas in the second half," HCC women's coach Bernie Semler said. "This is finals week and kids are trying to take it easy, and a lot are injured and trying to play at half-speed. I could tell we were having some issues running up and down the floor."
The HCC women (4-5) came out with a stellar first quarter in the opener. Janae Holman powered the Hawks from inside the paint and even hit a 3, scoring 11 of her 12 points as HCC built a 20-14 lead.
"It was a really good first quarter for us. We really played the ball well on both ends," Semler said. "We had a couple turnovers here and there, but we actually shot better than we usually do. Sheridan is a team that is used to playing with a 24-second shot clock instead of 30, so they want to do things quick so we just tried to slow them down a little bit."
Sheridan (5-4), which trailed 36-31 at halftime, was in front for good by the end of the third quarter, leading 49-43.
The second half is when MacKenzie came alive for the Bruins, scoring 11 of her team-high 17 points and pulling down nine of her 14 rebounds (11 offensive).
Still, HCC kept it close until the end. In the final three minutes, Kha'Niya Evans took a feed from Holman for a layup to pull the Hawks back within 57-53. Following a free throw from Evans to make it a three-point game, MacKenzie powered through the the paint for a basket and Theresa Brown (14 points) hit a field goal for a 61-54 lead.
With 26.7 seconds to play, Sadavia Felder put back a shot to pull HCC within four again, but a foul on Brown with a successful trip to the free-throw line all but sealed the game. Laura Jarekas hit a field goal at the buzzer to finish off the Hawks for Sheridan.
HCC's points leader for the day was Alexis Harris with 23.
HCC men drop a heartbreaker
In the nightcap, HCC opened with a 9-0 run over the first 4 1/2 minutes, as Dwight Felton — who finished with a game-high 24 points — and Raphael Castillo accounted for three buckets and Jason Wiggins (10 points) drained a corner 3.
The Bruins (8-2) began to find a rhythm late in the opening half but had a tough time slowing Felton. He made 6 of 9 shots from the field, scoring 15 points while adding two assists and a pair of steals as HCC (6-6) took a 43-36 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Hawks began to slow down, making more fouls than baskets while Sheridan took advantage.
The Bruins claimed their first lead of the game after Keenan Danso-Dapaah was awarded a trio of free throws before coming back to drain a 3 for a 47-46 lead.
HCC continued to battle back behind Kyshon Tate (12 points) who was a driving force inside. In the final four minutes of the game, the Hawks answered nearly every Sheridan basket with one of their own and never faced a deficit larger than four points.
Then came a heartbreaking final minute for the Hawks.
Felton scored to even the game at 68. Malik Moore then hit 1 of 2 free throws for the lead, but Sheridan quickly took the lead back as Jemol Edwards completed a perfect trip to the line.
An unsuccessful HCC trip to the line with 40 seconds remaining kept the Bruins up 70-69. A travel call gave the Hawks the ball back and Justino Vasquez capitalized with a layup, putting HCC up 71-70 with 19.4 seconds left.
However, Edwards was fouled again just seconds later, and he made both throws for the lead. HCC used a timeout to draw up a play for the final four seconds, but when play resumed the shot was just off the mark and time expired.
For pictures & video from the game, click the links below:
Written By: Brayden Leather (Sports Correspondent)