By Joel Gray
Hot Springs, AR—The Spa City and the National Park College Nighthawks hosted both the Women’s and Men’s teams from SAU Tech, Thursday (1/17), for a Region 2 Conference “clash on the court,” and the Rockets returned to East Camden with remarkable wins once again. The Ladies prevailed over NPC by the score of 82-56, while the Rocket men notched another victory with a tally of 95-88 over the Nighthawks.
Coach Andre Williams’ 7-4 Lady Rockets took the floor for their first Region 2 Conference game against a 3-7 National Park squad that had already lost their first league game and was, therefore, hungry to have a win. And it didn’t seem far-fetched that they’d get it after Tech’s slow start allowed the Lady Nighthawks a 20-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. But the second period saw a near- complete shutdown of the Nighthawk offense, as the Tech defense only allowed NPC to find the bucket for 4 more points before the half, at which time the Rockets led 32-24.
By the end of the third, the Nighthawks had closed to within only three, trailing Tech 45-42. But in the final period the Lady Rockets ignited for an impressive 37 points, bolstered by the heady play of Jakhiyah Boston, Brandashia Hargraves, and Devena Smith. NPC could only answer with an additional 14 points, fixing the final tally at 82-56 in the Lady Rockets’ favor.
National Park had only two ladies in double-digits, led by Faith Bratton’s 18 points. Hailee Crosby also hit for two 3-pointers. The Lady Nighthawks drop to 3-8 on the season, and 0-2 in the conference.
SAU Tech’s women get a win in their first Region 2 Conference game and improve to 8-4 overall in their first season on the court. In the win over National Park, the Lady Rockets had four players in double-digits, led by Brandashia’s 24. Jakhiyah scored 16, and Devena was close behind with 15, followed by Alex Parris’ 10. Jakhiya and Brandashia also sank three treys apiece.
Next up for the Tech Women is a non-conference rematch, on the road, with the D-I Coahoma Community College Tigers, who have the dubious distinction of being the first victim of Rocket Victory, falling to SAU Tech in their first-ever game, back on Nov. 2, in Shaddock Fieldhouse, by the score of 71-57.
Following the Lady Rockets’ 82-56 win over NPC’s women, Coach Marty Levinson’s 11-7 Rocket men hit the hardwood of The Gym Complex in Hot Springs, (Thurs., 1/17), as the Region 2 leader, having already notched a conference victory against ASU-MidSouth in their first league outing. They also were riding a 5-game winning streak—undefeated since the Christmas break—and looked to continue to add Ws to the win column.
10-1 National Park, however, hoped to have a say in that matter. The Nighthawks had just suffered their first loss of the season, to North Arkansas, which had also made them 0-1 in Region 2 play, so—in a four-team league—some might have seen the need for an NPC victory as a necessity.
By halftime of the contest, the outcome was still highly in question, as both teams had played toe-to-toe, with the Nighthawks nursing a narrow 1-point lead at the break, 43-42. But the second half saw Region 2 Points Leader, Sheldon Steven, light the fuse and explode from long-range, burning the net off the hoop with five FGs from beyond the arc. His teammates were ignited as well, and the Rockets rallied for a 95-88 win.
National Park had four players in double-digit scoring, led by Patrick Greene’s 26. Two Nighthawks managed multiple threes: Greene with 2, and K.J. Corder with 2 also. NPC falls to 10-2 overall, and 0-2 now in conference play.
In their sixth straight win, the Rockets had four in
double-digits. Steven led the way with 27,
followed by Jaland Mitchell with 20, Mike McAllister-Boatright with 14, and Will Bynum with 10. Steven had a total of six 3-pointers to his credit on the night, and Bynum added two more treys to the mix.
SAU Tech improves to 12-7 overall, and—more importantly—2-0 in the Region 2 Conference. Next stop for the Rockets will be in Clarksdale, MS for a non-conference rematch with the Coahoma Tigers, a Division-I team that has already suffered a loss to the Rocket men, back on opening night in Shaddock Fieldhouse, when Tech began their first season of basketball with a huge 69-61 victory over the Tigers.