Apple reaches 300 wins at Sandhills CC

Missed this one from last week…

Sandhills Community College head basketball coach Mike Apple reached win #300 last Monday. Here’s the release from Sandhills on the milestone:

Fired up by the opportunity to deliver a milestone victory for its head coach, the Sandhills Community College basketball team rolled to a 106-42 victory over Hines Prep on Monday evening at The Hangar.

The Flyers allowed only one field goal in the first 14 minutes of the game while jumping out to a 41-2 lead, quickly securing victory No. 300 for Coach Mike Apple in his 12th season at the helm.

“Being a part of this for two years has been pretty cool,” sophomore forward Joey McMullin said afterward. “Winning 300 games at a junior college is pretty amazing.”

Surrounded by his players, assistant coaches and Flyers supporters, following the contest, Apple was presented with a basketball signed by the players and supporters of the team that will be put on display at the Dempsey Student Center.

The No. 1 ranked in NJCAA Division III Flyers improved to 21-3 for the season. They take a 3-0 mark in Region 10 into Saturday’s 1 p.m. contest against Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, GA.

A basketball player at Union Pines High School and Guilford College, Apple was an assistant coach in the high school ranks for more than 10 years before becoming the head coach at Western Harnett in 1998 and later at Pinecrest in 2003. Monday’s victory raised his overall total of wins at the high school and college levels to 513.  His Sandhills teams won national championships in 2012 and 2020.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” he said afterwards. “I was 35 years old before I got a head coaching job. I was getting kind of worried that I was missing the boat. It’s been magical. We’ve had really good talent and I’ve been very fortunate to have that.”

Spurred on again by a student section that has expanded in size in each of the last three games, Bryan Quiller received a pass from Jaquan Thurman and started things off by draining a two from the side for the first of his 14 first half points. He then returned the favor, feeding Thurman for a basket inside. The Flyers led 18-0 before the visitors scored their first points with 12:50 remaining in the half.  Later, a putback by Zac Sledge made it 41-2 on the way to a 59-10 advantage at the intermission.

“Never underestimate the effect of a sixth man and in the case of a crowd, it can be a huge sixth man,” Apple said. “Our guys are really thriving off all that noise and I hope it continues.”

Quiller was 8-for-10 on shots from the field and finished with a game-high 18 points as the Flyers won their ninth game in a row. Other double-figures scorers were Sledge and Kendall Wooldridge with 11, and Ayden Gittens with 10. The leader in rebounds was LeNijel Robinson with nine. Alon Hanani and Jordan Coleman were each credited with five assists. The Flyers limited the squad from Charlotte to 14 field goals on 48 attempts (25.4 per cent).

“We’re playing at a pretty high intensity level, not real well sometimes, but at a high speed, and teams are having a hard time adjusting to how fast we are playing,” Apple said. “In the second half we worked on some things, including defensive looks, but I’m just really pleased with how hard our guys play.”

Current assistant coaches Markell Lotharp, Tramaine Pride and Daquain Towns all contributed to victory No. 1 as players when Apple made his coaching debut with the Flyers in a 91-82 victory over Wake Tech on November 2, 2011. According to Pride, there was a lot of chatter among the players before Monday’s game about the prospect of winning No. 300 for their head coach.

“He’s always been consistent, he always gives you a chance,” said Coleman, who, including a red-shirt year, is in his third season being coached by Apple. “He’s a great guy.”

Following the trip to Georgia, the Flyers have three non-conference games in a row at home, starting with the St. Andrews junior varsity on Monday, February 6.  They wrap up regular season play with three conference games in a row on the road.

“We’ll have to take it step-by-step and hopefully win a national championship,” McMullin said.

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