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PINEHURST, NC — In its first taste of competition in more than seven months, FTCC men’s basketball team didn’t opt for an easy return to the court. The Trojans traveled to Pinehurst on Wednesday to take on reigning NJCAA Division III champion Sandhills CC on.

“We want to play as high a level of competition as we possibly can so that we’re ready for our regular season,” Trojans’ coach Brian Hurd said. “Sandhills has played and won at the national level. This was a good test for us.”

The Trojans passed, leaving Heins Gymnasium with a 133-104 win. FTCC overcame a 59-57 halftime deficit, grabbed by the Flyers on a buzzer-beating layup to end the first frame.

Hurd said the Trojans picked up their defensive pressure in the second half, capitalizing on a string of Flyers turnovers for points in transition.

“Our shots were just falling in the second half,” the coach said. “We were running and executing our offense and pressuring the ball.”

Sophomore guard Collin Lewis led the way, draining four 3-point goals in the second half to finish the night with 21 points.

The Trojans were without forward Jawon Eddie, who continues to nurse a pinched nerve in his back. But fellow sophomore Donte Johnson handled post duties, scoring 14 points and pulling down five rebounds.

The game was the first competitive action the Trojans have seen since they finished the 2019-20 season with a run to the quarterfinals of the Region 10 Division II playoffs in March.

Because of the covid-19 pandemic, the NJCAA has pushed winter sports to the spring. The Trojans begin play Jan. 25.

Despite the lengthy delay, Hurd said the Trojans were sound in execution and stamina.

“I’m just really proud of our guys,” Hurd said. “We had great energy throughout the game.”