By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE March 7, 2006 Which Sullivan County Community College Generals were going to show up on Friday night at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse?
All season long, the word on the street and the buzz in the bleachers was that the 2005-2006 Sullivan Generals were two different teams.
When the bunch of talented individual players worked together as a team, they burned up the court like it was on fire.
But when they decided that a couple more buckets would look good in their own personal record books, the Generals did not play as well and suffered defeats.
On Friday night, SCCC (22-8) saw its season as well as the dream of a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III National Championship come to a bitter end. In the opening round of the NJCAA Region XV Championships, the Generals were defeated, 82-77, by the Suffolk Community College Michael J. Grant Campus Longhorns Down in the Bunker at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on the SCCC campus in Loch Sheldrake.
In the early moments, things looked like they were going the Generals way. By the 16:33 mark in the first half, Sullivan was up by seven points at 9-2.
But about two minutes later, the Longhorns had bucked their way to a 11-11 tie. By the midpoint of the first half, SuffolkGrant had a 25-19 lead over the Generals.
SCCC Preseason All-American guard Everage Richardson, who returned to the court after an injury had forced him to miss several regular season games, made a 3-point shot to narrow SuffolkGrants lead to three points with 5:35 remaining in the half.
However, that was as close as the Generals ever got to corralling the Longhorns.
At intermission, Sullivan trailed 38-32.
Two minutes into the second half, the Longhorns led by 10 points (44-34), and at the 11:45 mark, they were were up by 15 points (62-47).
Moments later, Suffolk-Grants Chukar Lioegbu swished a 3-pointer, putting his team up 67-56.
The Generals made a last-ditch comeback at crunch time.
With 3:25 remaining, Sullivan freshman guard Josh Lott scored to close the Longhorns lead to 77-71. Lott followed that hoop with a 3-pointer about 45 seconds later, which cut the SuffolkGrant advantage to 78-74.
After a battle at the free-throw line on both ends of the court, Sullivans Roberto Macklin closed out the scoring with a bucket with 20 seconds displayed on the scoreboard clock.
Macklin and Jason Johnson each netted 19 points to pace the SCCC offense.
Richardson added 17 points and Michael Hines had 11 points for the Generals.
Lioegbu scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Longhorns to victory.
Ryan Freely added 19 points for SuffolkGrant, while teammates Desean Gist recorded 14 points and Alvin Vivican netted 13 points.
Stats from the free-throw line: Sullivan was 19-for-23 (83 percent); Suffolk CC went 13-for-21 (62 percent).
Neither Suffolk Coach Tim Cluess nor Sullivan Coach Chris DePew were available for a post-game interview.
At the start of the contest, a Generals fan ran across the court holding up a yellow and green sign that read, Play Like a Champion Today.
Much to the disappointment of the Sullivan Generals and their loyal fans, today didnt happen.
But theres always the promise of the tomorrow of the 2006-2007 basketball season.