By Ted Waddell
DELHI March 19, 2002 Word has it there are a lot of beanstalks in Delhi.
Along with constantly drumming the word defense into their players, the Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) Generals coaching staff must be reading a lot of bedtime stories to them about giants and what happens at the end of the tale.
On Friday night, fifth-ranked SCCC (25-3) faced off against the Giants of Keystone Junior College, ranked fourth in the nation (28-2) in the semifinals of the 2002 NJCAA Division III mens basketball championship tourney at SUNY Delhi.
At the end of regulation play, the hard-fought game was tied at 76-76. In overtime, the Generals outscored the opposition 14-8 with a spirited defense and some savvy plays to record a 90-84 victory.
With the win, SCCC advanced to Saturday nights championship game versus College of DuPage at SUNY Delhis Farrell Hall gymnasium.
Tim Butler scored first for the Generals in the games opening minutes, but the Giants quickly tied it up at 11-11. When Keystones Jason Taylor was hit with a technical foul, Shiron Brown sank a pair of shots from the free throw line to put SCCC back in the lead by two with 13:27 remaining in the first half.
In later action, Brown put the Generals up by four (17-13) scoring from the foul line and a spinning layup.
With 1:08 left until halftime, Taylor gave the Giants a slim 37-36 lead as the Generals saw their early game 13-point advantage evaporate on the floor.
Keystone walked into the locker room with a 39-36 lead at the half.
In the second half, the action was fast and furious as the lead changed hands several times on the way to overtime.
At 7:21, Davis put the Giants in the lead 67-64 with a shot from outside the three-point arc. Five minutes later, SCCC had fought back to lead by three (76-73). Seconds later, however, Keystone tied up it 76-76 with another three-pointer.
With 40 seconds remaining in regulation play, Brown was caught traveling, and Keystone took possession.
Davis fired off a three-pointer at :17, but it bounced off the rim. On the following play, Brown dumped it off to teammate Davon Wilson in a crowd, but his three-point shot went wide of the mark and the game went into a five-minute overtime.
The lead switched back and forth in the extra stanza. With one minute left in OT, Generals guard Kareem Morgan got a crucial three-pointer to fall through the net to put SCCC ahead, 86-84. Brown was fouled, and went one for two to make it a 87-84 game.
Butler cut the beanstalk out from under the Giants in the closing seconds of the hotly-contested game. He went one for two at the line to give SCCC an 88-84 advantage and drilled the ball through the net after grabbing the rebound from his own missed shot to close out the win at 90-84.
I got a lot of good shots, said Brown. The team came to play, and the coaches came to coach.
According to Butler, he knew the Generals would return to Delhi this year after losing in the finals last season.
But I didnt think it was going to be so tough to get back#, he added.
Along with teammates Brown and Butler, Morgan was back for a second try at the NJCAA Division III brass ring.
We feel like Shiron and Tim are the best two players in the country, and with them leading and us playing defense, we cant be stopped, Morgan said. The coaches stress defense, defense, defense . . . and thats whats going to make us win a championship.
Generals making it to double digits in the scorebook included Brown, who netted a game-high 29 points, Morgan (21), Butler (20) and Davon Wilson (12).
Giants who scored 10 or more points included Jujuan Davis (16), Sherman Brittingham (15), Destin Scott (12), LaMont Jones (11) and Keon Ford (10).
SCCCs Morgan (5/8) and Keystones Davis (4/8) were the three-point guys for their respective teams. Morgan hit five-of-eight shots from beyond the the three-point arc, while Davis was four-of-eight behind the line.
Stats from the free throw line: SCCC 14/23 (58 percent); Keystone 13/15 (87 percent).
Field goals: SCCC 34/70 (49 percent); Keystone 30/69 (44 percent).
Giants Coach Tommy Dempsey took the loss in stride, saying that after SCCC jumped out to an early game lead, we kept our poise and took the lead by halftime.
From then on, it was a war, he added. Its execution down the stretch, and they made a couple of more shots than we did. (But) our kids fought all night long.
After the game, SCCC Coach Chad Beeten said he was thrilled to be in the final four, and going into his first NJCAA championship game.
Looking over at Brown, Butler and Morgan in the media room, he said, These guys know what its like to be there, and that got us over the hump tonight . . . these guys know what its all about.
We got one or two more stops in overtime (than they did), and thats why were going to the finals.
The Generals helmsman added that he reinforced the message that there are consequences to failing to making shots from the free throw line.
We run sprints for missed free throws, said Beeten. These guys hate to run sprints, and they knew that if they missed tonight, they were going to run a lot of damn sprints!