The Virginia Peninsula men's basketball team won its season-opener in dramatic fashion Nov. 5.
When coach Chris Moore’s team had a 21-point lead with 10 minutes remaining, he didn’t envision needing a 3-pointer from Jhalen Harris at the buzzer to win the game.
But that’s exactly what happened as the men’s basketball team won its season-opener Saturday, Nov. 5 with an 81-80 victory over Bryant and Stratton on Warwick High School’s Ben Moore Court.
“J. Harris, a second-year player, I expect him to make the big shots,” Moore said.
The Gators are coming off a 16-1 season that culminated in a conference tournament title, but have a lot of new faces. After giving up a 3-pointer to open the game, they went on a 14-0 run to take control in the first half. They stretched the lead to 32-15 before going into halftime up 43-32.
In the second half, it was much of the same, with the Gators going ahead 70-49 halfway through the period.
However, the Bobcats, from Virginia Beach, were far from done. They went on a 13-0 run. Then after the Gators stopped that run with a field goal, the Bobcats went on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 72 with less than four minutes to go.
Looking back on it, that didn’t surprise Moore, too much.
“These guys are all young,” Moore said of his players. “For most of them, this is the first time playing college basketball. The first time in a game.”
The coach noted there’s a significant difference in the length between college games (40 minutes) and high school games (32 minutes). He’s sure that was a factor also.
But after three more lead changes and three ties, the Bobcats took an 80-78 lead on a pair of free throws with just under 8 seconds left. The Gators got the ball to halfcourt before calling a timeout with less than 4 seconds to go to draw up a play.
Moore could have gone for a tie and overtime, but decided to go for the win. Harris eventually got the ball on the right wing, about two steps behind the 3-point line and in front of the VPCC bench. The shot hit nothing but net, exciting the crowd of close to 150.
“This team is going to be really good second semester,” Moore said. “We’re young. We have to go through adversity. I think by second semester, these guys are going to be really good. We’re going to be really tough to beat.”
Mekhi Reid led the Gators with 16 points, followed by Quishaun Brevard with 12, Keshaun Johnson with 13, and JaMarcus Wray with 12. Harris finished with 8 points.
Moore was particularly impressed with Way, Johnson and Reid, all in their first year playing college basketball.
“They had to play a lot of minutes today, and they were very effective in that time,” he said.
The Gators return to action Nov. 12 at Warwick against Pitt Community College (N.C.). Tipoff is 3 p.m.
The women’s basketball season opener scheduled for Nov. 3 was canceled, and the season will start Nov. 12 against Richard Bland. It will be played at Warwick High School
following the men’s game.
The volleyball team lost to Mid-Atlantic Christian University in the New South Athletic Conference tournament semifinals to finish in third place. However, they earned the 2022 Trailblazer Award. It’s the first season of women’s volleyball for VPCC, and the Gators are competing as a club team before joining the National Junior College Athletic Association next season.
A pair of Gators – Cori Anderson and Carlee Watson - were named to the NSAC all-academic team, which requires a GPA of at least 3.0. Anderson graduated from Hampton High School. She is in her second year and is studying visual arts. Watson, a graduate of Tabb High School, also is in her second year. She’s studying computer-aided drafting and design.
They play again Nov. 19 in the ODU Club Invitational.
For more information on all of the athletics teams at VPCC, go to https://www.vpcc.edu/life/athletics.