Defense and team play was the name of the game in Sandhills Machine 2025 (8th Grade) road to the championship in the Youth Sports Athletic League 2k21 Nationals at Soldiers Memorial Sports arena in Butner, N.C. on June 26.
Coached by Jeremy Kyle and Kimberly Sanders, the Machine shared the ball and dominated defensively in pool play with victories of 43-10 in game one (six different players scored — leading scorers were Taveon Harris 16 points, Na’zia Green 12 points, and Will Miller 8 points) and 36-8 in game two (seven different players scored — leading scorers were Will Miller 11 points, Taveon Harris 7 points, and Jaylen Kyle 7 points). The victories and fewest points allowed in pool play earned the Machine the number one seed and a first-round bye in bracket play.
Bracket play did not change the Machine’s tournament theme. Dominant defense and team play continued to be the story that led to a 53-11 victory in the semifinals (nine different players scored — leading scorers were Devion Coleman 10 points, Will Miller 10 points, and Jameel Smith 10 points).
The semifinal victory created a showdown in the finals against the third-seeded Kernersville Bulls who upset second-seeded Sandhills Machine 14U, 39-28.
In the championship game, the Machine never looked back after starting off the game on a 10-0 run and proceeded to take a 29-15 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Machine did not allow the Bulls to score a single point resulting in a 42-15 championship victory.
Of the eight different players who scored for the Machine, Taveon Harris led the way with 17 points, and Will Miller turned the game into his own personal block party returning several shots back to sender, said Assistant Coach Chris Miller.
“I’m so overjoyed for these young men,” said Sandhills Machine President Cash Sutton. “This team has the capability to be something special. I saw that with the return of David White, and they’ll only improve more when Dakota Bender and Devon Warren return. Special thanks to all those who made it possible; Sandhills Machine’s coaches, volunteers, members, parents, First Bank, Blendz Barbershop, Jasmine Green (Realtor), Kimberly Sutton, Richard Mandell and all the silent donors.”
Feature photo: Left to right: Coach Chris Miller, Head Coach Jeremy Kyle, Aiden Leonard, Jaylen Kyle, Taveon Harris, David White, R.J. Daniels, Jamari Harvey, Will Miller, Na’Zia Green, Sencedrick Barham, Jameel Smith, Devion Coleman, and Coach Kimberly Sanders. Not in photo: Devon Warren, Alex Landry, and Dakota Bender.