Sports (1098)

Thursday, 26 December 2019 07:28

Lenoir-Rhyne Football Ranked Fourth in Final Poll

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The final American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll was released and the Lenoir-Rhyne Football Team ranks No. 4 in the nation. The final ranking of No. 4 is the second-highest final ranking in program history, trailing the No. 2 ranking after losing in the National Championship in 2013.

LR tied a program record with 13 wins as they went 13-1 in 2019 and advanced to a second straight NCAA Quarterfinal game. For the second straight year, the Bears would fall to the eventual national champion as LR lost in the final minute to West Florida by a final score of 43-38.

LR owned the longest home winning streak in the nation as they won 15 straight inside Moretz Stadium before falling to West Florida. The Bears placed a team-record 15 players on the all-conference team and DE Jaquan Artis has piled up national awards. The Kinston, N.C. native has been a finalist for the Harlon Hill trophy, Gene Upshaw Award, Cliff Harris Award while being named D2CCA National Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-American.

The Bears won back-to-back SAC Championships and finished the decade with six championships, 83 overall wins and eight NCAA Playoff victories.

LR will enter the new decade led by Mike Jacobs. Jacobs, who was announced as the 23rd coach in program history on Sunday, owned a 42-8 record in four seasons at Notre Dame (Ohio) and advanced to the NCAA Semifinal in 2018 and NCAA Quarterfinal in 2019.

Thursday, 26 December 2019 07:27

Lenoir-Rhyne Hires Mash for Weightlifting Program

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Lenoir-Rhyne has announced that Travis Mash has been hired to become the first head men's and women's weightlifting coach in program history. The Bears announced the addition of weightlifting as a club sport last week which will begin competition in 2020-21.

"I am so excited to join the Lenoir-Rhyne University family," said Mash. "This is going to be my legacy for the sport of weightlifting. We are going to create the best university weightlifting program in America with three goals for our athletes. One is for them to graduate as better men and women. Two is for them to graduate with a functional degree and a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Three is for them to become the best possible weightlifters that they are capable of becoming."

Mash has created one of the best weightlifting clubs in America and has produced 23 Team USA athletes since 2015. As the head coach of Mash Mafia Weightlifting, Mash has been the Team USA Head Coach at the Junior Pan American, Junior Worlds and Youth Pan American Championships. In 2019 alone, he developed three Senior World Team Members, two Junior Pan American Team Members and qualified a Junior World team member as well as three Youth Pan American team members. Additionally, he qualified two Senior Pan American Games team members, one Senior Pan American Championships team member and two Youth World team members.

As the owner of Mash Elite Performance Athletic Performance & Online, Mash has authored 22 EBooks and his strength and conditioning program has produced hundreds of Division I athletes as well as multiple professional athletes including Tommy Bohanon, former starting fullback for the Jacksonville Jaguars and John Abbate, former linebacker for the Houston Texans.

"Travis brings tremendous experience not only on the national but also on the international level," said Associate Athletic Director Aaron Brock. "We plan to develop one of the top collegiate weightlifting programs in the country. Coach Mash will provide an incredible athletic experience while also instilling a programmatic culture that will ensure the total development of our student-athletes."

Mash earned his bachelor's from Appalachian State in 1995 where he was a member of the football team. Since 2016, Mash has been the USAW Senior International Coach, the only one to hold that role in the state of North Carolina.

LR is the 37th university level team to offer weightlifting. The teams will compete in USAW-sanctioned events and allow athletes to qualify for the USAW University National Championships, as well as additional championship events.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019 07:06

App's Davis-Gaither Named All-American

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App State senior linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither has been named an All-American.

The All-America honor comes from Phil Steele, which made Davis-Gaither a fourth-team selection. Of the 16 linebackers on Phil Steele's four All-America teams, he was one of only two from a Group of Five program.

Davis-Gaither was recognized as the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year while helping lead No. 20 App State (13-1) to its fourth straight league title and a fifth consecutive bowl win. As a fifth-year senior, he's part of just the fifth class in college football history to win five bowl games and four conference championships, joining five-year classes from Nebraska (1969-73), Alabama (1975-79), Florida State (1991-95) and Marshall (1988-2002).

An outside linebacker, the versatile Davis-Gaither completed his senior season with 104 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, eight PBUs, six quarterback hurries, a game-ending block of a field goal (in the 34-31 win at North Carolina) and one interception (also in the second half at UNC).

Davis-Gaither has been chosen to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl, and The Athletic considers him a Top 100 draft prospect. He ranks fourth nationally among non-DBs this season with his eight PBUs, and he was eighth among non-DBs last year with seven PBUs, giving him 15 over his final two seasons.

In App State's four closest regular-season games, Davis-Gaither totaled 44 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three PBUs, one interception and one field goal block. He then recorded 19 tackles in the Mountaineers' two postseason victories.

In addition to his 10 tackles, second-half interception and game-ending block at UNC, Davis-Gaither posted 2.5 tackles for loss with one sack, two PBUs and a forced holding penalty on the game's final play in the 20-15 victory at South Carolina.

He's the second App State defender to receive All-America recognition this year, as sophomore cornerback Shaun Jolly (five interceptions) was named a second-team All-American by PFF College. Phil Steele's All-Sun Belt first team included Davis-Gaither, Jolly, Demetrius Taylor (defensive lineman), Darrynton Evans (running back), Victor Johnson (offensive lineman) and Noah Hannon (offensive lineman).

Tuesday, 24 December 2019 07:05

App's Forrest Earns Three Player of the Week Awards

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After leading App State men's basketball to a pair of Sun Belt road victories, junior guard Justin Forrest has been recognized for his performance on the court this weekend with three Player of the Week awards.

Forrest was named the Lou Henson Award National Player of the Week. The Lou Henson Award is presented annually to the top Mid-Major player in Division I college basketball and is named in honor of Lou Henson, who retired after a spectacular coaching career that lasted 41 years. When he left the game in 2005, he was sixth all-time in career Division I wins with 779. He is the winningest coach at both Illinois and New Mexico State. He is one of only 12 coaches in the history of the game to take two schools to the final four.

Forrest was named Sun Belt Player of the Week by the conference. It marks the second time the junior guard has earned the honor from the Sun Belt, also winning the award during the 2017-18 season.

He also was tabbed as the Sun Belt Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.

Forrest put together a pair of strong performances, helping the Mountaineers defeat South Alabama 81-71 on Thursday and Troy 70-65 on Saturday. In those two games, he averaged 28.5 points on 54.3 percent (19-of-35) shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals.

In Thursday's win against South Alabama, Forrest poured in a season-high 32 points on 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) shooting, while adding four rebounds, a career-high tying six assists and a career-high tying four steals.

He followed that up with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in App State's come-from-behind victory at Troy on Saturday. The Mountaineers outscored the Trojans 21-4 down the stretch in their five-point victory.

On the season, Forrest leads the team and sits third in the Sun Belt in scoring, averaging 17.8 points. He has reached double figures in scoring in 10 of 12 contests, including 20 or more five times.

App State stands at 8-4 on the season and 2-0 in conference play. The Mountaineers are off to their best start through their first 12 games since the 2006-07 season, when the Black and Gold started 9-3.

Mike Jacobs has been named the 23rd head football coach of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate has announced. Jacobs comes to LR from Notre Dame College (Ohio) where he served as the head coach for four years, accumulating a 42-8 record and a spot in the NCAA Semifinal in 2018 and NCAA Quarterfinal in 2019.

"I am excited to welcome Mike Jacobs along with his wife, Lacey, and sons, Luke and Knox, to the Bears family," said Pate. "Mike brings tremendous experience, having developed one of the top Division II programs in the country into a national contender, and understands the importance of developing a winning culture that emphasizes high character and the student-athlete experience."

Jacobs lifted the Notre Dame Falcons to new heights in his tenure, including a run to the NCAA Semifinals in 2018 and a narrow 30-24 loss to eventual national champion Valdosta State. The 2018 NCAA Region 1 Championship was the first in program history. Before that, Notre Dame had never made an NCAA playoff appearance.

Jacobs coached the Falcons to back-to-back Mountain East Conference championships in 2018 and 2019 and was named the league's Coach of the Year both seasons. The Falcons garnered national recognition, being ranked as high as fourth in the AFCA Coaches Poll in 2019 and 11th in 2018. Following the 2018 campaign that saw Notre Dame go 13-1 overall and 10-0 in the MEC, Jacobs was announced as the Regional and National Coach of the Year by the Don Hansen Football Gazette.

"I am humbled by the opportunity and honored to be the 23rd head football coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University," said Jacobs. "I would like to thank President Whitt and Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate for trusting us to lead the storied Bears program. My wife Lacey and our two sons, Luke and Knox, look forward to meeting and immersing ourselves in the Lenoir-Rhyne football family and the wonderful community of Hickory. We will work quickly to put together one of the finest coaching staffs in NCAA DII and they will hit the ground running in recruiting. It will be our goal to not only uphold the great LR tradition, but to elevate it each day."

After leading his squad to the Region 1 Championship, Jacobs set out to replicate that success in 2019. Notre Dame rattled off nine straight wins to open the season, eventually making it to the NCAA quarterfinals. The Falcons offense ranked fourth in Division II in scoring offense at 39.5 points per game, and topped the record for all-conference selections in 2019 with 18 being named All-MEC, including winning the Offensive Player of the Year, Offensive Freshman of the Year and Defensive Freshman of the Year for the second straight season. Six players went on to be named All-Region and two were All-Americans.

Individually, Jacobs coached RB Jaleel McLaughlin to be a Harlon Hill finalist in each of the past two seasons, including a runner-up for the award in 2019. McLaughlin led Division II in rushing in each of the past two years and his 2,421 yards gained as a freshman in 2018 is a Division II record.

The Falcons were strong on the defensive side of the ball under Jacobs as well, finishing ninth in the nation in rushing defense in 2019 and Notre Dame's 128 tackles for loss ranked fifth in Division II. During the 2018 season, the Falcons ranked first in the country in red zone defense and in the top five in four other defensive categories. Over the past two years, the defense generated 92 sacks and 232 tackles for loss.

In the classroom, Jacobs has had four Academic All-Region selections and three Academic All-Americans. Jacobs significantly improved the team's overall GPA with the implementation of the Falcons for Life initiative focused on helping players achieve success in the classroom and develop transferrable skills to set players up for success after college.

"Mike is the right person at the right time to lead our football program and has enthusiastically embraced our high expectations for excellence on an off the field," said Lenoir-Rhyne University President Fred Whitt. "I know our student-athletes and the entire Bear Nation will welcome his passion and commitment to our players and program as we strive to take our football program to an even higher level of excellence."

Before joining the Falcons, Jacobs spent more than six years with the Vulcans of California University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) as their defensive line coach and director of football operations. While with the Vulcans, their defensive unit produced 16 All-PSAC performers, three NCAA-II All-Americans, a PSAC Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year and two Gene Upshaw Award finalists. In 2010, Cal U finished second in D-II in total defense. During his six seasons there, he helped the team win the PSAC four times, appeared in the playoffs four times and made two Final Four appearances.

Jacobs also spent three years on the Purdue coaching staff as an assistant offensive coach. He was the offensive line coach at Wilmington College in 2004, and spent the two years before that as the assistant offensive line coach at Eastern Michigan.

As a player, Jacobs was a five-year member and two-time letter-winner at the Ohio State University from 1997-2001. He was an offensive lineman and a long snapper for both John Cooper and Jim Tressell. During his career, he played in more than 30 games, including two Sugar Bowls. Jacobs also was an Academic All-Big 10 and scholar-athlete award winner in 2001.

Jacobs will be introduced at a public celebration on Monday, Jan. 6, at noon in Belk Centrum on the Lenoir-Rhyne campus. There will be a reception after the press conference. Both the press conference and reception are open to the public. The event also will be live streamed on

Jacobs File:

2019-present – Lenoir-Rhyne University
Head Coach
2016-19 – Notre Dame (Ohio) College
Head Coach
2015-16 – Notre Dame (Ohio) College
Defensive Coordinator
2014-2015 – Notre Dame (Ohio) College
Defensive Line Coach
2008-14 – California University of Pennsylvania
Defensive Line Coach/Director of Football Operations
2005-08 – Purdue University
Offensive Graduate Assistant/Offensive Line
2004-05 – Wilmington College
Offensive Line Coach
2002-04 – Eastern Michigan University
Offensive Graduate Assistant/Offensive Line

"Mike Jacobs is one of the finest young coaches in the country and comes from a great football family legacy. What he accomplished at Notre Dame College is phenomenal. Without question Mike represents the best of college football. I will be excited to watch his continued success at Lenoir-Rhyne."

John Luckhardt, retired head football coach
California University of Pennsylvania/Washington & Jefferson

"I am excited for Mike Jacobs and the opportunity that he has in becoming the head football coach at Lenoir-Rhyne. Mike turned Notre Dame College into a national power in a short time. He will be a great leader for LR and will guide them as they build on their outstanding tradition."

Mel Tjeerdsma, College Football Hall-of-Famer and former football coach and Athletic Director
Northwest Missouri St.

Monday, 23 December 2019 07:44

CVCC Men's Basketball Wins Fifth Straight

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The Catawba Valley Community College men’s basketball team closed out 2019 with its fifth consecutive win on Saturday, defeating Johnston Community College 78-61 during the finale of the CVCC Classic held at the Tarlton Complex.

Jonathan McFall led the Red Hawks (8-4) with 14 points — one of four Red Hawks that reached double figures in scoring in Saturday’s game.

John Bean (11 points), Jahleer Black (10 points) and Zach De La Cruz (10 points) also led Catawba Valley in the win.

Leading 21-14 early in the first half, CVCC went on a 12-4 run out of a timeout to increase its lead to double digits, going ahead 39-29 at halftime.

The Jaguars (9-6) opened the second half on a 10-2 run, pulling within 41-39 of the Red Hawk lead.

However, Bean — a freshman from Denver, N.C. — provided a much-needed second-half spark, scoring 10-straight points, including a 3-point play, a made 3-pointer and four-straight free throws on a pair of Jaguar technical fouls.

That surge pushed the Red Hawks back into a double-digit lead on their way to victory No. 8 on the season.

The next game for the CVCC men’s basketball team takes place Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020 against conference opponent Lenoir Community College at the Tarlton Complex.

Tip off between the Red Hawks and Lancers is set for 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Monday, 23 December 2019 07:42

Appalachian State Wins New Orleans Bowl

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Make it a perfect five for five by App State's quintet of fifth-year seniors.

Whether the 20th-ranked Mountaineers were putting the ball in the air or scooping it off the turf, they extended their record-setting bowl streak and capped a record-setting season with a 31-17 win against UAB in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night.

Despite facing a two-touchdown deficit in the first five minutes, App State (13-1) scored 31 of the final 34 points with help from Zac Thomas' two touchdown passes to Thomas Hennigan and Tommy Dawkins' 2.5 sacks.

The Mountaineers took their first lead of the night when Darrynton Evans ran 31 yards for a touchdown after recovering a fumbled fourth-down sneak early in the third quarter, and they went ahead for good on linebacker Trey Cobb's tiebreaking 24-yard return of a fumble forced by Nick Hampton's sack midway through the same period.

With the win in Shawn Clark's head coaching debut, fifth-year seniors Akeem Davis-Gaither, Desmond Franklin, Victor Johnson, Collin Reed and Josh Thomas finished their careers with a 7-0 postseason record that included two wins in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game and a 5-0 bowl record.

For fourth-year seniors such as Jordan Fehr and Noel Cook, they won a Sun Belt title every year they were in Boone.

"It's a great day to be a Mountaineer, baby," Clark said. "Our team has a ton of poise, and it's been that way all year. Our team has great senior leadership."

App State is the only FBS program with no losses or ties in at least five bowl appearances, and it has accomplished that feat in just five postseason-eligible seasons. The fifth straight bowl victory ended a season in which the Mountaineers became the first Sun Belt team and the first FBS team from the state of North Carolina to win 13 games.

Evans rushed for 161 yards while tying the Sun Belt record of 24 touchdowns in a season, and App State set league records for single-season points (543) and touchdowns (73). Defensively, Fehr led the way with 11 tackles in his final game, and the Mountaineers posted six sacks while holding UAB to 184 yards of offense after the first two drives.

Facing a quick two-touchdown deficit via a pair of 25-yard scoring passes by the Blazers (9-5), App State stayed the course and systematically worked its way back into the game.

Marcus Williams Jr. rushed for gains of 20 and 27 yards to set up a 34-yard field goal from Chandler Staton early in the second quarter, and UAB punted the ball back to the Mountaineers less than two minutes later.

Evans raced to the UAB 24 on a 57-yard run to begin App State's next series, and a UAB penalty for illegal leaping on a field goal attempt prolonged the possession. Two plays later, Zac Thomas dropped the ball in to Hennigan on a fade route for a 17-yard touchdown.

The Mountaineers' came up big on its two remaining series to end the first half, as cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles recorded his first career interception at the App State 20 and UAB punted from its 1 following a third-down sack from Elijah Diarrassouba.

Opening the second half with possession, App State moved to the UAB 39 on a 24-yard pass to Jalen Virgil and kept its offense on the field for a fourth-and-1 play from the 30. Thomas fumbled the ball on a QB sneak attempt, but Evans scooped up the loose ball in the backfield and ran untouched off right tackle for a 31-yard touchdown.

UAB tied the game at 17-all by making a 49-yard field goal midway through the third quarter, but Hampton and Cobb combined for the biggest play of the game on the Blazers' next series. Hampton knocked the ball loose on a sack of Tyler Johnston III, prompting Cobb to scoop up the loose ball and run 24 yards for a tiebreaking defensive touchdown.

The Mountaineers forced a three-and-out punt and moved ahead 31-17 with a nine-play, 85-yard touchdown drive. Facing a fourth-and-3, Thomas rolled right and threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Hennigan, who wrestled the ball away from the UAB defender in the end zone.

App State could begin celebrating with cornerback Shaun Jolly forced and recovered a fumble in the last two minutes.

Afterward, Clark addressed the team, then called on App State alum and assistant coach D.J. Smith to lead the Mountaineers’ celebratory song.

It was another App State party in the Superdome. That’s all for a record-setting senior class, but a memorable beginning for Clark.

Karlie Bearden had a career-high 21 points and Hanna McClung added 14 points but Valdosta State drained five three pointers in the final quarter to help the Blazers grab the lead and hold on for a 76-69 victory over the Bears in the first ever meeting between the two squads.

Both teams came out shooting the ball well. In the first half, LR shot 43.3% (13-30) while Valdosta State shot 50.0% (15-30). Foul trouble effected both teams in the first half. Valdosta State senior Cheray Saunders was limited to three minutes in the first quarter after picking up two quick fouls. Saunders is 6th in the Gulf South Conference in scoring with 16.4 points. Saunders scored eight points in the second quarter to help the Blazers take a four point led into the half. LR's Madeline Hardy picked up her second foul early in the second quarter and was limited to seven minutes in the first half.

LR came into the game averaging 15.7 turnovers per game and the Bears had 12 turnovers in the first half of this contest.

The Bears balanced attack continued. Eight different Bears scored by the half, led by Bearden's 11 first half points.

Lenoir-Rhyne took a four point lead going into the 4th quarter but the Blazers came out hitting their first five three pointers to take the lead for good. The Bears defense forced 10 steals led by Bearden and Ashley Woodroffe with three each. The Bears have forced at least 10 steals in three out of the last four games.

Valdosta State's Junior Kayla Bonilla played all 40 minutes, scoring a season-high 24 points on 10-19 shooting and added nine assists. Bonilla came into the game third in Gulf South Conference in points with 18.3.

For the game the Bears shot 41.1% (23-56), It is the second straight game the Bears have shot over 40% from the floor. The Bears shot 38% for the first nine games of the year.

Hanna McClung had a season high 14 points today. McClung had 17 points last December against Johnson C. Smith.

With the loss, Lenoir-Rhyne falls to 3-8 overall and 1-4 in the South Atlantic Conference. Before returning home on Saturday January 4 against Coker, the Bears will travel to UNC Greensboro New Years Day for an exhibition game.

Monday, 23 December 2019 07:34

App State Men's Basketball Rallies to Down Troy

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Appalachian State men's basketball overcame a 12-point second half deficit in a 70-65 win at Troy on Saturday.

The Trojans (5-8, 1-1 SBC) opened a 61-49 lead with 13:18 left to play in the game. From there, App State (8-4, 2-0 SBC) held Troy without a point for an 8:43 span, scoring 12 points in the process to tie the game at 61-61.

Troy answered with a pair of free throws, but the Black and Gold tied the score at 63-63 on a layup from O'Showen Williams with 3:52 to play.

The Trojans came right back with a basket to take the lead back at 65-63, but from there, it was all Mountaineers. Isaac Johnson tied the game at 65-65 with a jumper at the 2:28 mark of the second half and Justin Forrest gave App State the lead with a 3-pointer with 1:45 remaining.

Troy could get nothing going and the Black and Gold got free throws from Hunter Seacat and Johnson down the stretch to cap the victory.

App State's 8-4 start to the season is the best for the program since the 2006-07 season, when the Mountaineers started 9-3. The two Sun Belt wins to open conference play marks just the second time the Black and Gold have won its first two Sun Belt games, also accomplishing the feat in 2017-18.

The Mountaineers also won their first two conference games on the road for the first time since the 2008-09 season, when App State began Southern Conference play with road victories at Furman and Wofford.

Troy jumped out to an early 10-3 lead, before App State answered with seven straight points to tie the score at 10-10. With the Trojans leading 17-12, the Black and Gold went on a 9-0 spurt to take a 21-17 edge with 9:36 left in the opening half. Later in the half, Troy snapped a 28-28 tie with six straight points and took a 45-39 lead into the break.

Forrest paced App State with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-18 (50.0 percent) shooting and a 4-of-8 (50.0 percent) clip from deep, to go along with five rebounds and three assists.

Johnson added 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while Seacat tallied nine points and five rebounds. Williams chipped in with six points, five rebounds and a game-high four assists.

App State shot 45.3 percent (24-of-53) from the field and held the Trojans to 31.8 percent (21-of-66) shooting, including just 25.0 percent (7-of-28) in the second half.

The Mountaineers return to action on Dec. 29 at NC State in their non-conference finale at 4 p.m. on ACC Network. App State then returns to Boone for three straight Sun Belt games, beginning on Jan. 2 against Georgia State at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

Monday, 23 December 2019 07:32

CVCC Men's Basketball Wins Over Central Carolina

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Sophomores Byron Sanders, Sal-Bey Young and Jonathan McFall combined for 48 points, leading the Catawba Valley Community College men’s basketball team to a 84-72 victory against Central Carolina on Friday night during day one of the CVCC Classic at the Tarlton Complex.

Sanders scored a career-high 17 points and added seven rebounds and six assists in the fourth-straight win for the Red Hawks, who improve to 7-4 overall on the season.

Young and McFall also both came up one rebound short of recording a double double in the contest. Young finished Friday’s game with 16 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals, while McFall recorded 15 points and nine rebounds.

Capitalizing on a solid rebounding effort that included nine offensive boards in the first half, CVCC took a 37-31 halftime lead paced by 10 points and three rebounds from Sanders.

Catawba Valley led by as many as 17 points in Friday’s contest, but the Cougars (6-8) cut the lead to just 71-65 with 3:52 to go in the contest before the Red Hawks re-expanded their lead and made free throws down the stretch in the 12-point victory.

The CVCC men’s basketball team finishes play at its host Classic on Saturday with a 3 p.m. contest against Johnston Community College at the Tarlton Complex.

The Jaguars fell 90-69 to Caldwell Tech during the first game of the CVCC Classic on Friday.

Caldwell Tech and Central Carolina open the final day of competition at the CVCC Classic with a 1 p.m. game. All games are free to attend.

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