By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE January 22, 2002 It was a heartbreaker.
The Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) Lady Generals almost pulled a rabbit out of the hat in their season opener against the Lady Westcos of Westchester Community College (4-1) during last Thursday nights game at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
The Lady Generals (0-1) were up by three, 36-33, at about the midway point in the second frame, but then watched their hopes of a win slip by as Westchester went on a 19-7 run to earn a 52-43 victory.
In the closing minutes, former Livingston Manor star hoopster Amanda Cox stepped up to the free throw line for two shots with the home team down by one. She was temporarily sidelined by a sudden asthma attack and from that point on the game quickly went south for SCCC.
The Lady Generals, a small, scrappy team, refused to call it quits when faced with a squad that featured some taller players. The home team battled to the end against a more experienced and quite a bit taller opponent.
Double digit scorers for SCCC included Cox (19) and Rachelle Irwin (12). For the Lady Westcos, Lisa Marie Galasso netted 24 points and Christine ONeil added 10.
Stats from the free throw line: SCCC 9/18 (50 percent); Westchester 12/25 (48 percent).
I thought considering the amount of time the Sullivan team had in preparation, they did an excellent job, said Donato Palumbo, fifth year coach of the Lady Westcos. Their number 10 (Cox ) is phenomenal and so is number four (Irwin).
Palumbo said that faced with the first half shooting skills of Cox and Irwin, he decided to have his team play man-to-man in second half, and let somebody else beat us.
Sullivan is one or two players away from being a real contender in the region, he added. They were right in it up until the end.
Kyle Walter, first-year coach of the Lady Generals, is well-known on the local sports scene as a high school basketball referee. He was tabbed by the local community college to take over the helm of the womens basketball team this season after the part-time coach moved on to greener pastures.
His view of their opener?
I thought we did a lot of good things for our first game, said Walter. They showed me a lot of heart, a lot of hustle. Im very pleased with how they played.
His review of the game?
Amanda (Cox) was her usual self, Walter said. (Shes) a great all around player, a lot of steals and a bunch of points. Rachelle Irwin played very well in her first game, Nicole Feller did well fighting on the inside (and) Erica Ferber did a tremendous job for me down low . . . she came up with a big rebound in the second half, kicking it out to Amanda for a three, and Tiffany Simmonds battled inside for rebounds.
Liberty alum Carly Sklar warmed the bench most of the game, but when Cox was forced off the court with the asthma attack, she entered the fray with every intention of winning the game.
She did some nice things, Walter said of Sklars performance.
In reality, the Lady Generals are hampered by a short bench, as they only have six players on the team. And that factor prevents them from scrimmaging against themselves in practice to get a feel for the ebb and flow of the game of hoops.
Tonights game was our first live look against other people, said Walter. We stopped being as aggressive as we should have been, and we started to stand around too much.
Overall, not too bad, he added.