By Bryant Marks
SOUTH PRINCE GEORGE, VA -- In a tight game, Richard Bland College men's basketball comes through with a powerful dunk and two clutch free-throws to seal a victory over Frederick Community College on Friday with a score of 85-82.
With a record of 6-7 after the win, the team gets going in the right direction after a three-game skid. Using this win as momentum going in Winter Break, the team now has almost a whole month off until their next contest and can fine-tune their game to the fullest. Beating Frederick tonight was a good win for the team as Frederick has assembled a very good roster this season and the win should prepare the Statesmen for their first contest of 2020. That game will be played on January 6 at Harford Community College.
The Statesmen matched up with Frederick CC out of Maryland and Region XX on Friday. Frederick has had two close games against two top-25 teams in the nation this season and looked to come into Statesmen Hall to push the Statesmen around. From the opening buzzer, the team made sure to let Frederick know that they were no pushovers. The teams fought hard in a close-called contest, going at each other each possession. One player whose stats may not always show up in the scoring column but is a valuable part of the Statesmen team is Rontré Pope. His presence and energy can always be felt when he enters the game. He came up big time and time again grabbing rebounds and getting defensive stops in the first half to give RBC the energy they needed when they needed it most. The teams traded buckets for the whole first half and no separation could be created by either. That is until with almost no time left on the clock, Antonio Stovall Jr. launched a shot up from three and drained it to give Bland the two-point lead at halftime up 42-40. Coming out for the second half, RBC was flying around the court on both ends to prevent Frederick from scoring for the first five minutes. The Statesmen would push their lead the double digits halfway through the half with big plays from Corbin Slayton, Mykai Smith, and Keontae Boyette, who tormented Frederick inside and out on offense. Frederick would slowly close in on the RBC lead as Bland went scoreless for almost three minutes and took their first lead of the half with less than two minutes left in the game. The teams traded big shots within the next minutes including an And-1 bucket by Slayton. Frederick would come back and nail a shot from deep to go up by one with less than a minute left. The defining moment of the game came when Kenneth Southerland got the inbounds pass, ran it down the court, and passed it off to Corbin Slayton for the give and go. He then streaked towards the basket as a pass from Slayton threaded the defense to find Southerland who went up with his head looking down at the rim to slam the ball home with a powerful jam. With 48 seconds left in the game, RBC got a key stop and held the ball until Boyette was fouled and headed to the line for two. He nailed both his free-throws to give the Statesmen a three-point cushion with five seconds left. Frederick had a chance to send the game to overtime but air-balled the game-tying shot at the buzzer to send them home with the loss. The final was 85-82, Richard Bland.
Big play tonight from every Statesmen player that entered the game tonight but the ones who stood out in the scoring column and down the stretch were Corbin Slayton with 18 points, Kenneth Southerland with 17 points, and Mykai Smith with 17 points.