Sandhills Machine, class of 2024 (9th Grade), captured their sixth travel basketball National Championship at Rock Hill Sports & Event Center in South Carolina Sunday. It was sloganed ‘The Return’ due to the fact the team hadn’t played since August, and Coach Germann Bostic was back to work his magic, taking over the realm from Coach Cash Sutton.
December 5 – 6 was the first annual Teammate and National Basketball Travel Association Winter National Championship, and it was only right that Sandhills Machine stamped their name in the books. Carolina Storm was the first opponent, and Sandhills Machine jumped out to an impressive start with a 70 – 49 win, led in scoring by James Ellis Scott with 12 points and Jaylin Morgan with 12 points. Exceptional guard play was from Kaedon Porter, Salah Sutton and Javian Drake, and Shomarii Hailey and Nehemiah McDonald provided the defensive pressure.
The second opponent would prove to be more challenging. Sandhills Machine jumped out to a large lead to watch it evaporate as NLPB204 made continuous runs to close the gap before losing 66 – 63. Sandhills Machine was led in scoring by Salah Sutton, 15 points, and Paul McNeil Jr., 12 points. Shomarii Hailey and Jamarion Wall attacked the basket relentlessly against NLPB204’s bigs and both finished with 9 points. Jaylin Morgan came up with a crucial steal and knocked down two free throws to seal the deal.
Up next was West Virginia Crossover who showcased a 6’5″ phenomenal center and two outstanding guards; however, Sandhills Machine was not to be denied winning 66 – 53, led in scoring by Paul McNeil Jr., 17 points, Javian Drake, 14 points, and Salah Sutton, 9 points.
The final test was a team Sandhills Machine knows very well, CSB Elite 2024 Grier. It was sure to be a battle of the center and point guard. However, that was not the case when the ball was tossed up at halfcourt. Sandhills Machine jumped on them and never looked back for a 56 – 42 win and the championship. It was a team win with balanced scoring coming from Jared Davis, 10 points, Paul McNeil Jr., 10 points, Chase Evans, 7 points, and James Ellis Scott and Javian Drake both finished with 6 points.
Paul McNeil Jr. finished with a tournament-high 43 total team points, Salah Sutton, 34 points, Jared Davis, 28 points, Javian Drake, 28 points, Jamarion Wall, 21 points, and Jaylin Morgan, 20 points. Nehemiah McDonald joined James Ellis Scott on the court and made it a block party playing outstanding help defensive and blocking shot after shot at the rim. They’ve always been a defensive-minded team with players able and willing to get stops.
“Special thanks to all those who made it possible; Sandhills Machine’s volunteers, players and parents, First Bank, Blendz Barbershop, Jasmine Green (Realtor), Kimberly Sutton, The Pollination Project, Our Military Kids, Moore County Community Foundation a component of North Carolina Community Foundation, and Faith Covenant Fellowship Worship Center for allowing us time to hold a solid practice,” said Sandhills Machine Coach Cash Sutton.
Photo: Left to right: Jaylin Morgan, Malachy White, Shomarii Hailey, Javian Drake, Jamarion Wall, Jyveese Bostic, Kaedon Porter, Chase Evans, Coach Germann Bostic, Jared Davis, Salah Sutton, Paul McNeil Jr., James Ellis Scott, and Nehemiah McDonald. Not in photo: Jaylen Sturdivant and Trent Hilburn.