By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE January 30, 2007 It was a real dogfight.
Saturday afternoon’s National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XV battle between the host Generals of Sullivan County Community College (ranked No. 1 in the country among NJCAA Division III teams) and their arch regional rivals, the Suffolk County (CC) Community College Clippers, the fourth- ranked team in the land, lived up to its advance billing.
It was a barn-burner of a hoops game “Down in the Bunker” at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
Once the coaches unleashed their players, it was everyone for themselves as they battled for possession of the ball.
Sometimes they competed a bit too much, as the individual desire to score a couple of points over-rode a pass to a teammate poised for a sure-fire bucket under the glass.
SCCC took to the floor unbeaten during the 2006-2007 season. And after holding a 77-67 advantage at the final buzzer, the Generals improved to 15-0 overall and 10-0 in Region XV, while Coach Chris DePew improved his personal record to 103-18.
Early in the first half, the Clippers jumped out to a 3-0 lead and with 11:27 remaining in the half, were up by six points (20-14).
At about the seven-minute mark, Michael Hines went 2-for-2 at the free-throw line to bring the Generals to within two points. Soon after, teammate Sayed Ali tied it up at 22-22.
In the closing seconds of the half, both teams fired off 3-point shots. SCCC’s successful 3-pointer put them up 37-35 at the half.
At the halftime buzzer, one of the referees tagged DePew with a technical foul. As a result, the second half started off with a Suffolk player nailing a couple of shots from the free-throw line to tie the contest at 37-37.
During the game, there seemed to be an ongoing battle between DePew and a couple of the officials, as the SCCC coach was repeatedly cautioned about stepping a bit over the black line separating the court from the bench area.
A 3-pointer by Dyshaun Flourney and a pair of foul shots by Mustafa Palmer gave the Generals a 56-48 advantage.
At approximately the 13-minute mark, the Generals figured it was time to proverbially hit the dictionary. They discovered that the “I-Word” stands for “Intensity”, and from that point on figured it was time to turn up the heat.
SCCC center Jason Johnson, who found himself in the coach’s doghouse in the first half, electrified the fans with a slam dunk in the second half.
Suffolk CC (18-2, 9-1 Region XV) cut the Generals’ lead to eight points on a steal. But then it was back on the road to victory for the Generals, as in the final three minutes Josh Lott went 4-for-4 at the free-throw line, Johnson iced a couple of more from the foul line and with 9.5 seconds left, B.J. McDowell made both of his foul shots.
Double digit scorers for SCCC included Johnson (23 points), McDowell (17 points), Michael Hines (15 points), Josh Lott (10 points).
Clippers who netted at least 10 points were Dyshaun Flourney (16 points), Maurice Charlton (15 points) and Craig Stewart (10 points).
SCCC made 26-of-33 free throws (79 percent) on the afternoon.
Suffolk Coach Richard Wrase proved he was a man of few words in defeat, as when asked for a few post-game comments, he replied, “No.”
“It was two very good basketball teams in a dogfight,” DePew said. “The two best [teams] in the region, each one trying to put themselves in the best seed for the easier road to the championship.
“We’ve had our issues in the past, but they’re always a very good basketball team,” DePew added. “We’re just lucky to be on the winning end of it once in a while.”
In the past 12 years, SCCC has won three national titles, and Suffolk has walked off with the brass ring twice.
“We’re always battling each other for supremacy in the region,” DePew said.
The coach noted that his team really had to work hard to beat the Clippers.
“It brought out the meaning of our tradition… never give up, always try hard and do what we need to do, and good things will happen,” DePew said.
“Our game plan was to disrupt their plays, and that’s what we did,” DePew continued. “The best part about our team is that everybody contributes.”
SCCC’s Johnson noted that it “was a physical game. “My head wasn’t in the game [in the first half]… that’s why he [DePew] was yelling at me. But as the game went on, I got my focus. It was a great win.”
Generals Top Dutchess CC
On Thursday, the Generals defeated Dutchess Community College, 87-74, in a game DePew called “atrocious.”
“I was very concerned about what was going to go down today… I’m glad my guys stepped up to the plate,” he added.