By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE December 5, 2000 With 10:17 remaining in Thursday nights game between a couple of undefeated National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III teams, it must have seemed to the refs that they were officiating a World Wrestling Federation brawl, rather than a basketball game.
A couple of mid-court fights stopped the game until the refs and coaches regained control.
The homestanding Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) Generals faced off against the Senators of Ulster County Community College (UCCC). Both teams took to the floor with identical 4-0 records. At the final buzzer, the Generals had defeated the visitors 66-43.
The Generals took a 35-18 lead into the locker room, but in the second half, the hosts narrowly outscored their opponents 31-26.
After the game, which was called physical, several home team players said their opponents had been in our faces all night long. The fights erupted when the Senators Nicholas Cabrera reportedly elbowed Kris Ibezim in the nose, causing the blood to flow. While the refs were cooling flaring tempers, UCCCs Jose Cartwright put an elbow into Monticello High School grad Justin Dawson.
In a well-packed fieldhouse filled with Dawsons supporters, that elbow disjointed the home team fans. As Cartwright was getting ejected from the game, Dawsons father rushed onto the court, further fueling a potentially explosive situation, and he was given the boot by SCCC AD Jack Mager.
The fights broke out with the Generals holding a 47-30 lead.
The two nationally ranked teams are scheduled to meet again at UCCC, on February 14. Coincidently, thats also St. Valentines Day
According to the Nov. 28 NJCAA Mens Basketball Division III Poll, SCCC was ranked 4th while UCCC held the 8th slot.
It was a tough game, said UCCC coach Anthony Evans. They played great defense and took us out of our half court offense, and we turned the ball over way too much.
The game was a little physical, he added. Guys lost their heads and elbows got thrown.
Generals helmsman Will Brown summed up the game in four letters. It was U.G.L.Y., he said. After scouting the Senators, I knew they were going to play extremely hard and physical. I thought that if we played well offensively and defensively, we could send a message to some people.
Ive got to be happy with the W, but we were terrible in the transition, he added. I think weve got a good product, and have some kids that really play hard and are pretty good on the court.
Looking toward SCCC hosting the Region XV tourney this year, Brown said, We have to win three games in three days, and if our sixth man is the crowd, that will be a tremendous factor. The kids deserve it
theyre good kids who work hard, and they deserve to play in front of a crowd.
Justin Dawson thought the Generals had a good game despite the mid-court fisticuffs and flurry of elbows. We took them out early and set the tempo, he said.
Playing for Sullivan is great, added Dawson. Weve got ten or twelve guys coming off the bench
we get in there and share.
Kris Ibezim led the home team in the scoring category with 15 points the other night. He was ineligible for the first half of last years hoops season, and is self-admittedly hungry for court time.
That made me come out with an lot of emphasis this year, he said. I have to put an exclamation point on certain things because Im hungry
Ive been wanting to play for a long time. I was nominated for a pre-season All-American, and I have to live up to that.
In the last couple of games, weve been blowing teams out, he said. Everybodys been playing, so its been balanced scoring which I like. Weve just got to stay focused.
His take on the rest of the season? Weve got a good team, and everybodys focused in the classroom and on the court. Mental toughness is number one is basketball, said Ibezim.
I hope the fans keep coming out
Go Generals!, he added
SCCC scoring: Kris Ibezim (15 points), Justin Dawson (12), Earv Opong (11), Derek Rankin (10).
UCCC scoring: Antonio Bencosme (14), Nicholas Cabrera (10).