By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE February 26, 2002 The Sullivan County Community College Generals (21-3) pulled a rabbit out of the hat, but the last minute magic act left the coaching staff wondering how many more tricks the hometeam hoopsters had up their sleeves.
In the first half of Thursday nights NJCAA Region XV game against the Mustangs of Monroe Community College (11-18), Generals took a 33-24 lead in the locker room at halftime.
But in the second half, it seemed as if SCCC was asleep at the switch, as the Mustangs closed the gap to within two points (35-33) with 14:33 remaining on the game clock.
Monroe CCs Lashard Duren was on fire from outside the arc, as he hit a trio of threes in the first half, and four three-pointers in the second.
But SCCCs Shiron Brown lead a late game charge to bring the home team back up by six.
Monroe CC attempted to pull off a last second score to tie the game with a two or win with a three. But Generals guard/forward Wygene McCants outhustled a Mustang player to cause a steal and Brown picked up the turnover to end the contest for a 63-61 SCCC victory.
Leading the Generals to the win was Brown, who racked up 16 points and was credited with three steals. Tim Butler had 16 points and Kareem Morgan had three assists and three steals for SCCC.
SCCC shot well at the free throw line, converting 13-of-17 shots (76 percent).
Percentage-wise, however, the Mustangs shot better, hitting 10-of-12 free throws (83 percent).
Duren was the games leading scorer with 22 points.
I think Sullivan played harder than we did in the first half . . . we played very soft, said Monroe CC Coach Charles Jackson. They did a better job crashing the boards, beating us to the rebounds.
In the second half, we played better, he added, noting the performance of Duren from outside the three-point arc, a factor that almost put Monroe CC in the drivers seat.
SCCC Coach Chad Beeten said the Generals played really well offensively for fifteen minutes, but then we didnt do a good job.
Fortunately, we held them to 61 points, he added. We got lucky that they missed a bunch of shots. We had a good defensive stand at the end . . . we got a steal and they didnt get a shot off.
With a 21-3 record, I cant complain.
Notes: The Generals played their final game of the regular season against Globe Institute Saturday in New York City.
The latest NJCAA Mens Division III Basketball Poll, which was released last Tuesday, February 19, ranks SCCC third in the country . . . SUNY Delhi is ranked first (25-1) and Richland College in Texas holds the second spot.
The 2002 NJCAA Region XV Tournament will be held this Friday, March 1 through Sunday, March 3 at the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.