By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE February 25, 2003 It was close, but the Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) Generals managed a late-game rally to call it lights out for the Knights of Globe Institute of Technology in their homecoming game Saturday at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
Despite taking a 15-point lead just 10 minutes into the first half, the Generals (23-4, 15-0 Region XV) decided to get generous and handed the Knights (20-5, 13-2 Region XV) a three-point lead (43-40) at the half.
The closing minutes of the game had opposing fans on the edge of their seats as the contest went down to the wire.
At the end, the Generals made a couple of key buckets and woke up at the free throw line to earn an 82-77 win.
Before the opening buzzer, the SCCC coaching staff paid tribute to starting sophomore tri-captains Dana Holmes, Wygene McCants and Darius Waters.
In one sense, the center court ceremony marked the close of their careers at Sullivan, as it was their last game Down in the Bunker.
On the other hand, it opened up new opportunities in the world of hoops, including the upcoming NJCAA Region XV Tournament at Kingsboro Community College and possibly the national championships at SUNY Delhi.
The tri-captains were joined by family and friends as they were awarded signed game balls and photographs of them in home court action taken by the staff members of the Democrat.
With 23 seconds remaining on the first half clock, SCCC had a slim one-point lead. A fact not too surprising considering they were only 3 of 17 at the foul line in first half.
But in the game of basketball, 23 seconds is a lot of time.
The Knights offense poured it on as the seconds ticked away to take a 43-40 halftime lead.
And the hometown fans were left wondering if the Generals 61-game homecourt winning streak was coming to an end.
About five minutes into the second half, Holmes put SCCC back in the drivers seat (52-51). At 12:00, the game was tied 56-56.
A couple of minutes later, Gary Jones put the Generals back up by two and although the Knights narrowed the SCCC lead on several occasions, the Generals hung onto the lead until the final buzzer.
At 8:30, Haron Hargrave sank a three-point shot to put the Generals up 65-58.
With 1:35 remaining, SCCCs lead had shrunk to 74-69. Then GITs Qaysara Forlenza went one for two at the foul line, and in the wake of a quick GIT bucket, the Knights trailed by two at 74-72.
As the clock ticked down, Waters split his free throws, and GIT scored to make it a one point ballgame (75-74).
At the 36-second mark, Waters aced his free throws to put the Generals up by three, 77-74. GIT tried a three-pointer that came up short, and after Hargrave grabbed the rebound off the glass, Waters was again fouled.
Back to the free throw line at the 19-second mark, Waters converted one foul shot to make it a 78-74 contest.
With a scant seven seconds remaining, GITs Tony Tate caused a lot of nail biting on the SCCC bench when he made a three-point shot to make it a 78-77 contest.
The Generals Mikail Malik was fouled and made both to put Sullivan up by three points (80-77).
At the four second mark, the Knights Angelo Garcia was fouled by Hargrave while driving to the hoop, but missed both shots from the free throw line.
SCCCs Joseph McLeod grabbed the rebound off the glass and was fouled. On his first free throw, the ball bounced off the rim about six feet up into the air, only to fall back cleanly through the net. McLeods second shot was also good, giving the Generals a hard-fought 82-77 victory.
Sullivan did a great job, said GIT Coach Dan Nigro. We were a little slow in the beginning and they were more physical than us.
In the course of the game, GIT lost four starters to foul trouble: Mark Curry, Shamel Good, Victor Monaros and Obadiah Toppin.
It was quite a game, said the Voice of the Generals Joe Roche. The guys played with all their hearts and gave 110-percent.
Dave Katz, Roches fellow cohort at the scorers table, summed up the Generals 62nd consecutive homecourt win.
It was a hell of a game, Katz said. Our foul shooting kept it interesting, but we prevailed in the end.
SCCC Assistant Coach and Athletic Director Chris DePew called it a good game, even though the Generals blew a 15-point lead midway through the first half to give it right back to them.
We were absolutely horrendous from the foul line in the first half, he said. But when the game was on the line [in the second half], we hit em down the stretch, and thats the key.
DePew said that in Sullivans march to the NJCAA Region XV Tournament, the Generals took on all comers including nine full-scholarship teams.
We like playing the tough games, he said.
SCCC Coach Chad Beeten can be a man of few words, but when he talks one tends to listen.
I wasnt too worried about their lead at the half, he said. Thats why you play 40 minutes of basketball.
Generals who reached double figures included Jones (a game-high 19 points), Hargrave (18), Darren Sykes (10) and Waters (10).
For GIT: Obadiah Toppin (17) and Jason Holyfield (14).
Stats from the free throw line: SCCC 19/42 (45%); GIT 13/19 (68%).