By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE December 24, 2002 On Saturday, for the first time this season, the Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) Generals played with a team-first mentality instead of several highly-talented individual players in search of unification.
In the second game of a womens/mens basketball doubleheader, the Generals defeated the Nassau Community College Lions 87-66 in a hard-fought NJCAA Division III, Region XV hoopfest at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
In the opening minutes of the game, Nassau (6-5 overall, 6-2 Region XV) jumped out to a 6-0 lead. At about the halfway mark in the first 20 minutes of play, the Generals (10-3 overall, 7-0 Region XV) bounced back to lead 22-11.
With less than four minutes remaining until the halftime break, Gateway had narrowed SCCCs lead to two (33-31).
The last bucket of the first half set the stage for the rest of the game as Darren Sykes sank a fade-away three-pointer to give the Generals a 44-36 lead at the half.
Throughout the game, the Generals coaching staff seemed to outyell the fans in the bleachers. Coach Chad Beeten shouted himself hoarse while imploring his players to Wake Up!
At the 15 minute mark in the second half, Sullivan had a three-point lead at 50-47. Several ticks of the game clock later, however, the Generals found another gear and ran out in front, 70-55.
I came into the game expecting to win, but things just didnt work out that way, said Nassau Community College Coach A. J. Wynder. We got away from what we were trying to do in the first half, [and]. . . in the second half, we made a run but went back the other way again. Nobody did well tonight, we were off.
According to SCCC Athletic Director/Assistant Coach Chris DePew, the Generals finally put together a game that showed what the team was capable of doing in the rough and tumble world of NJCAA hoops.
I am so extremely happy with the way our guys came out here, he said of beating the team the Generals defeated last year in the Region XV Championships.
There was a lot of bad blood between the two schools, because Nassau thought they got shafted in the championships last year, DePew said in a very candid moment. The plain fact of the matter is that we handled them tonight.
We went out there and did what we had to do and stayed focused, he added. Darren Sykes finally came out of his slump and was on fire tonight . . . they had no answers for him.
According to DePew, when the Lions tried to shut down Sykes, they went to there other big guys: Gary Jones, Joseph McCleod and Darius Waters to keep the points flowing in the right direction.
I thought we were terrific defensively against a really good team, said SCCC Coach Chad Beeten.
The whole team stepped up and played well, he added. Haron Hargrave was terrific, and he played 35 minutes.
We gave up a few too many offensive rebounds in the second half, said Beeten. But hey, we won by 19, so we cant be that unhappy.
Generals reaching the land of double figures included Sykes (a game-high 26), Hargrave (17), Waters (16) and Jones (10).
Hargrave proved he wasnt the guy to foul as he shot 90 percent at the free throw line (9/10), and Sykes burned up the floor from the three point zone (six 3s for 18 points).
For Nassau, Pierre Loriston scored 13 points and Fleans Dervishi added 10.
Foul line stats: SCCC 21/29 (72 percent); Nassau 10/15 (67 percent).
Saturdays 19-point win over rivals Nassau Community College closed out the Generals games for the first semester.
On Saturday, January 18 SCCC kicks off its second semester of basketball with a home game against Suffolk County Community College. Tip off is set for 2 p.m.