By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE February 13, 2007 Herman would have loved it, and the baseball team helped to win it.
Thursday’s National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XV basketball game between the No. 1-ranked NJCAA Division III team in the nation, the undefeated Sullivan County Community College Generals, and the NJCAA Division I Generals of Technical Career Institute (TCI), was overshadowed by the spirit of Herman Weingarten, the “Generals’ #1 Fan”, who passed away last week.
The home team got off to a sluggish start, trailing the opposition 36-28 at halftime.
As TCI (14-9 overall, 2-2 Region XV) seemed to be well on the way to being tabbed the region’s “bunker busters” by knocking off Sullivan (20-0, 12-0 Region XV) on their home court inside Paul Gerry Fieldhouse, which is fondly known as “Down in the Bunker,” SCCC Assistant Coach Troy Nowlin pulled out his secret weapon: the Generals’ baseball team.
With 1 minute and 20 seconds remaining in regulation, Nowlin stood up and exhorted the SCCC ball players sitting in the stands just above TCI’s bench to ramp it up verbally, adding a bit of spice to the game.
Led by chants from the baseball team, the local fans started to get jacked up, and the tide of momentum swung in favor SCCC. The Generals went on to record a 83-78 victory in overtime.
“It was too quiet in here, we needed some momentum,” Nowlin said. “I said to the baseball team, ‘We need you now,’ and they came through. They were dying to get rowdy, and ‘The Cardiac Kids’, that’s us, pulled out another one.”
At halftime, SCCC Coach Chris DePew adjusted to attack the TCI zone, and it worked up until about 37 seconds left on the game clock.
SCCC was cruising along with a 59-51 lead until about 1:30 remained in regulation play. At that point, TCI closed to within two points after a 3-point shot by Keith Godette and a steal converted into a bucket by Diloo Brown.
Jason Johnson made a foul shot to put Sullivan up by three points, 65-62.
But TCI’s Brown lit up the basket with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into a five- minute overtime period.
Watching a sure-fire victory and an unbeaten record sudden go into the jeopardy zone, DePew went ballistic and started to have a serious talk with his players.
Apparently the Generals were listening, as they took a 72-65 advantage at the 2:54 mark on the way to their 13-point victory.
Double-digit hoopsters for SCCC included Johnson, who netted a game-high 26 points, Josh Lott (19 points) and B.J. McDowell (12 points).
A trio of TCI players also scored in double figures. Kenneth Vialet recorded a team-high 22 points. Keith Godette had 19 points, including three 3-point shots and Jerry Jaquez recorded 10 points.
SCCC went 27-of-37 (73 percent) at the free-throw line, while TCI was 13-of-23 (57 percent).
“It was the worst officiated game I’ve had all year long,” TCI Coach Pernell Hosier said.
“The kids played hard, we fought hard and came back, we never gave up,” he added.
SCCC’s last couple of games have been Alka-Seltzer time for DePew. On Tuesday, the Generals edged Westchester Community College, 48-47, and up until overtime, Thursday’s game was up for grabs.
“I was concerned about how we were going to come out because of the ceremony before the game in honor of Herman [Weingarten],” he said.
“It was pretty emotional for all of us, and we came out somber,” DePew added. “We struggled through the first half, and then I made some adjustments… and we found some energy in overtime.”
Reflecting back on Tuesday’s razor slim victory over the Westchester CC Westcos, DePew said, “we had no business winning that game. Somebody was watching over us.”
The Generals’ leader noted that in the last six seconds of the game, Westchester CC had “four point blank, wide open layups and two foul shots” to tie it up or take the lead, but they missed every one of those opportunities.
“It was like there was a cover on it,” DePew said of the Westcos’ basket.
With its win over the Westcos, a NJCAA Division I team, SCCC clinched the Mid-Hudson Conference regular season title.
SCCC’s top performers were: Josh Lott and Jason Johnson, each of whom recorded a double-double. Lott had 16 points and 11 assists, while Johnson registered 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Michael Hines added 11 points for the Generals.
Lady Generals Top Westchester
In the first contest of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Westchester CC, the SCCC Lady Generals defeated the Westchester CC Lady Westcos 72-52. With the win, the Lady Generals improved to 12-6 overall and 10-4 in Region XV.
Pam Graddick scored a team-high 22 points for SCCC, while Hannah Coen had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.