By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE Talk about a tension-filled finish.
In Tuesday night’s National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III Region XV basketball game in the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on the campus of Sullivan County Community College (SCCC), the visiting Panthers of Borough of Manhattan Community College, put a scare into the undefeated SCCC Generals.
With 1:13 left in regulation, Manhattan CC shaved the Generals’ lead to 79-78. The Panthers made a steal which translated into a successful 3-point shot on the other end of the court.
SCCC guard Moses Dayee, an NJCAA Division III Preseason First Team All-America selection, wove his way through traffic and went up for a crucial bucket, putting the Generals up 81-78.
At the 29.4-second mark, SCCC’s Terry Coleman made a pair of foul shots to extend the home team’s lead to 83-78.
Manhattan CC’s Tony Vails made a basket to bring his team to within three points.
But after Dayee was intentionally fouled, he made both of his free throws to help SCCC register a 86-80 heart-stopping victory.
With the win, SCCC, which is ranked among the top 10 NJCAA Div. III teams in the nation, improved to 5-0 on the young season. Manhattan CC’s record fell to 2-2.
SCCC Coach Kevin DeVantier, who is in his first year of leading the Generals, said his team was inconsistent on defense, but he was pleased with the win.
“We did the right things down the stretch and came out on top,” he said. “We did enough to win.”
DeVantier credited the play of Dayee and Coleman.
“As our leaders on and off the floor, they do a good job,” DeVantier said.
Dayee scored 26 points to lead the six Generals who scored in double figures. Dwayne Wade finished with 12 points, Coleman netted 11 points and Evan Pope, Jordan Thorpe and Jason Givens netted 10 points apiece.
Vails paced the Panthers’ offense with 26 points. Jamel Cobb and Josh Tuazon added 18 points and 11 points, respectively, for Manhattan CC.
“I think it was a very exciting game,” Manhattan CC Coach Daniel Nigro said.
Nigro, who is in his first season as the Panthers’ leader, noted that there are 13 freshmen on the squad this season.
“Our guys made some freshman mistakes,” he commented. “And in the first half, when you get down 10 points to a nationally-ranked team, that’s hard to overcome.
“Every time we rang the bell, Sullivan seemed to hit a big shot,” Nigro continued. “They never back down, and it came down to the wire.”