By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE February 11, 2003 The game lived up to the hype and advance billing.
Advertised as the NJCAA Division III Game of the Year, Saturdays matchup between the number one and number two ranked teams in the country was a war on the floor at Sullivan County Community Colleges Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
The SCCC Generals took to the court ranked numero uno in the NJCAA Division III Mens Basketball Poll of February 4, while the Broncos of SUNY Delhi were second in the nation.
At the final buzzer, the Generals hung on to bust the Broncos 75-68 despite a last minute charge by SUNY Delhi that almost signaled Sullivans first loss on their home court in 60 consecutive games (1,153 days).
After their usual slow start, the Generals decided to shake the sleepy dust out of their eyes and took a 30-21 lead into ther locker room at halftime.
In the second half, SCCC (19-3 overall, 13-0 NJCAA Region XV) started to run away with the game. But in the final five minutes, the Generals apparently figured it was time for a nap and allowed the Broncos (23-3 overall, 23-2 NJCAA Region III) to whittle their once commanding double digit lead to eight points, 68-60, with 2:06 showing on the clock.
Three seconds later, SCCC was back up by 10 points, 70-60.
With 43 seconds remaining on the game clock, Sullivan was ahead 72-66. At the 18-second mark, the Generals lead had shrunk to four (72-68) and the Sullivan coaching staff called a timeout.
At 15 seconds and counting Sullivans Gary Jones was called on a foul and Jason Jones stepped up to the line for the Broncos.
After Jones missed his first free toss, SUNY Delhi Coach Anthony Evans called a time out, only to watch his hoopster miss a second free throw.
In the battle under the bucket for the rebound, the Generals Glenn Davis was fouled.
With the score still locked at 72-68, Davis made both to give the Generals a 74-86 lead with 13 seconds left in the Game of the Year.
In the battle for possession, Wygene McCants was fouled at :04. McCants went one for two, giving SCCC the slim seven-point win.
It was a battle between two good teams, SUNY Delhi Coach Anthony Evans said. We had a good comeback, [but] we need to play with that intensity all the time.
Both Assistant Coach Chris DePew, who also serves as the SCCC Athletic Director, and Coach Chad Beeten were very happy with the games outcome.
This was a good one, said DePew. It was a war with lots of intensity . . . it was a great effort by both teams. Only one team could win, and fortunately it was us. Number one versus number two, thats what its all about.
Im really proud for our guys, and all their hard work, DePew added. Im really proud of our captains . . . their leadership made it all happen for us tonight.
It was a tough game, said Dana Holmes, who along with Wygene McCants and Darius Waters serves as a team tri-captain. We played hard and stuck with it . . . it was all heart, and we came up with the victory.
McCants summed up the win. This was the type of game we like to play. We got a little sloppy at the end, but I was never worried. I just wanted the ball in my hands so I could be secure . . . we have a lot of young freshmen who get hyper at the end, [but] once we slowed it down and took our time, I knew we were going to come away with it.
We played hard and came up with a W against a good team, Waters said. It was a quality win for us, and it showed the critics that we can play with some of the best.
Chad Beeten called the game a war, adding that Sullivan won for 35 minutes and the Broncos were in charge for five minutes.
With a minute to go, the other team had cut it to four, he said. A lot of teams would have just packed it in, but our kids were able to hold on in the end.
Everyone played well tonight, Beeten added.
Top scorers for SCCC: Mikail Malik (13), Haron Hargrave (11), Glenn Davis (9), Gary Jones (9) and Waters (9).
SUNY Delhi: Aaron Williams (15) and Andre Pereira (14).
Stats from the free throw line: SCCC 16/28 (57%); SUNY Delhi 7/17 (41%).
A lot of fans turned out to watch The Game of the Year, as Paul Gerry Fieldhouse was about three quarters filled to its 2,600 seat capacity.
The Generals staunchest fans, Herman and Shirley Weingarter of Loch Sheldrake, havent missed a home game Down in the Bunker in about five years.
I thought we were going to blow it, and I got scared, said Herman Weingarter of the Broncos late game charge to within four points. We were missing foul shots, and the other team was getting layups. But I woke em up by yelling like hell! Number one is number one! Sullivan is numero uno.