By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE February 1, 2005 Chris DePew, coach of the Sullivan County Community College mens basketball team, was sweating bullets before the start of Saturday afternoons National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XV game against Suffolk County Community College.
Starting out the second semester, DePew was down from a squad of 14 players to an eight-man roster in light of losing six hoopsters to a combination of academic and disciplinary issues. DePew was also wondering if the resulting change in his game plan was going to be enough to defeat the two-time defending NJCAA Division III national champions.
The second semester didnt start off as positive as I would have liked, he said. We lost four freshmen to academics and two to violations of school codes.
DePew said that historically, Sullivan has always been a team that prides itself on depth and athleticism, but with the loss of six players, that was all in the past.
When you lose six men, you lose your depth, he said. So we had to come up with a different plan.
DePew was forced into reining in his ninety-four feet, in-your-face, run and gun basketball team and convince the remaining Generals that they could win by switching to a determined zone defense to give them a little bit of rest and keep them fresh offensively.
Coming into the game against Suffolk (10-5, 5-5 Region XV), the Generals were trying to shake off their recent 12-point loss to Manhattan Community College, a defeat that DePew said took a lot of gas out of us
we were starting to doubt ourselves.
As SCCC (10-4, 7-1 Region XV) took to the floor against its arch rivals Suffolk was the team that squashed the Generals in last years NJCAA Region XV semifinals and then refused to shake hands with the SCCC players and coaches DePews mood changed from anxious prayer to leaping in joy as his charges swept to a 73-43 victory over Suffolk.
At the half, Sullivan was up 41-21, and kept right on clipping the Clippers in the final 20 minutes of competition.
Before the tip-off, Everage Richardson stepped up to the free throw line as a technical foul was whistled against the Clippers. Richardson converted 1-of-2, putting the Generals up 1-0 prior to the start of the game clock.
At 19:06, he sunk a bucket to start SCCC on the road to victory.
Richardson racked up a game-high 36 points, including five 3-pointers, and was credited with 10 defensive rebounds. John Bentley netted 16 points, while Kelvin Nelson had five offensive rebounds and eight defensive boards.
In addition, SCCCs Ghiles Jackson recorded five steals.
For Suffolk, Rich Wrase was the top scorer with 13 points including a trio of shots from beyond the arc and Alvin Dennis added 12 points.
Stats from the free throw line: Sullivan was 8-of-14 (57 percent); Suffolk went 0-for-4 (0 percent).
Suffolk Coach Richard Wrase, father of leading scorer Rich Wrase, declined a postgame interview, but assistant coach Jim McGowan stepped into the breach.
It was a long trip up, and it will be a longer trip home, he said. We were very sluggish.
Noting that the Clippers lost 11 players from last seasons 14-man roster, McGowan added, I give Chris [DePew] a lot of credit
his kids were shooting well and it was nice of him not to embarrass us.
These kids dont like to play zone, they want to get out and go, DePew commented after all was said and done and both teams shook hands.
Theyre not used to sitting back and watching time run off the clock, he added. We played the hell out of the zone today.