Sandhills Machine 14U, a youth national travel basketball program based in Southern Pines, finished up three days of basketball by winning the Amateur Athletic Union 14U Division 2 North/South Carolina State Championship at the Rock Hill Events Center in Rock Hill, S.C.
The story can not be told without mentioning the outstanding defensive efforts of Jaylin Morgan, who was selected as Player of the Game for all three games.
Defense is not a lost art, and Jaylen Morgan proved that in a 41 – 53 loss to Hope Academy 8th grade Division 1.
Jaylin was tasked with defending their top player. For two days, fans and media approached Jaylin and congratulated him on his tenacious defense.
Sandhills Machine was led by Paul McNeil with 16 points, Jaylin Morgan with 9 points, Jaylen Sturdivant with 9 points, and Salah Sutton with 5 assists. Player of the game was Jaylin Morgan and Paul McNeil.
Jaylen Sturdivant is a three-point specialist who can shoot the ball from deep and flat out score buckets. Sandhills Machine was down to Greensboro Warriors 14U Division 1 (2020 AAU Regional Champions) prior to Jaylen finding his stroke along with Shomarii Hailey and Jaylin Morgan stepping up the defensive pressure to battle back for a 56 – 45 win.
Paul McNeil was a walking double-double (points and rebounds) that provides a consistent 4 assists a game.
Sandhills Machine was led by Jaylen Sturdivant with 20 points, Paul McNeil with 15 points, Jaylin Morgan with 8 points, and Salah Sutton with 7 assists. Player of that game was Jaylen Sturdivant and Jaylin Morgan.
Sandhills Machine saved its best and balanced performance for the championship game 46 – 35 as they jumped out to a double-digit lead on Winston Salem 76ers then placed the stick-shift in cruise control.
Trent ‘The Legend’ Hilburn showcased his rebounding and defensive IQ as he stole the ball three times off help-the-helper rotations.
David Hiner was placed in good positions to score and is a welcomed offensive threat to the Sandhills Machine defensive focused team.
Kaedon Porter was explosive off the bench in all three games who gave the team solid play from the point guard position.
Jaylin Morgan and Shomarii Hailey were tasked to guard the 76ers best players, and both players made it very difficult for them to execute their offense.
All eight players scored, and the team was led by Jaylen Sturdivant with 11 points, Paul McNeil with 9 points, Kaedon Porter with 9 points, and Salah Sutton with 7 points, 5 assists. Player of the game was Jaylin Morgan and Salah Sutton.
“Special thanks to all the people that help to make this possible; Sandhills Machine’s volunteers and parents, First Bank, Blendz, Moore County Community Foundation and Moore Women – A Giving Circle both components of the North Carolina Community Foundation, Our Military Kids,” said Sandhills Machine Coach Cash Sutton.
Feature photo: Left to right: Coach Cash Sutton, Jaylin Morgan, Paul McNeil, Jaylen Sturdivant, Trent Hilburn, David Hiner, Salah Sutton, Kaedon Porter, and kneeling Shomarii Hailey. Courtesy photo.