By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE With 5:14 remaining in the first half of Thursday night’s Mid-Hudson Conference (MHC) basketball game in the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on the campus of Sullivan County Community College (SCCC), Orange County Community College’s Jordan Awoye scored inside the lane to tie the score at 26-26.
But SCCC’s Cleanthony Early answered with a pair of emphatic slam dunks during the next minute of play to give his team a 30-26 lead. The first dunk came off a missed shot and the second was after Early caught a perfect alley-oop pass from teammate Frankie Drayton.
The dunks elicited loud cheers from the home crowd and spurred the Generals to outscore the Colts 14-10 for the rest of the half to take a 44-36 lead at halftime.
SCCC (10-1, 3-0 MHC) opened the second half with a 9-2 scoring run to extend its advantage. Willie Williams III completed the run with a basket at the 17:27 mark to put the Generals up 53-38.
The Generals maintained their lead for the rest of the game to record an 88-72 victory.
“Cleanthony’s two dunks really got us going,” SCCC Coach Kevin DeVantier said. “They gave us energy and got the crowd excited. That has happened in some other games this season; Cleanthony gets a dunk and we feed off of it.”
DeVantier noted that it was a challenge to play OCCC [5-3, 1-1 MHC] just two nights after an 86-84 win against Bronx Community College.
“Bronx [CC] is a different kind of team,” he explained. “They are small and shoot the 3-pointer very well. Orange [CCC] has a couple of big guys inside and likes to get the ball to them.”
DeVantier noted that OCCC and SCCC have developed a rivalry over the years based on the proximity of the two schools. And it’s a rivalry based on mutual respect.
“Orange [CCC] always has a very good team and it’s always a tough game when we play them,” DeVantier said. “They are very talented and Tom [Rickard] is probably the best coach in this area.”
Rickard looks forward to playing the Generals, especially in Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
“It’s a great atmosphere for college basketball,” Rickard said. “The crowd is always into the game and Sullivan always has a great team. Kevin [DeVantier] does a great job with the team.”
Rickard noted that SCCC “played very well tonight.” He thought that one call made by the officials hurt his team.
“Early in the first half, they called a foul on our No. 22 Cody Williams,” Rickard said. “But he wasn’t even near the ball on the play. It was his third foul and he stayed on bench for the last 14 minutes of the half. That really hurt us because he is our best scorer and rebounder.”
Leading the OCCC offense were Avery West, who scored 22 points, and Rob Houston, who netted 15 points.
“Orange is a good team,” DeVantier said. “But I thought we played very well tonight. This was a good win, it was a huge confidence boost for us.”
Early recorded a double-double of a game-high 36 points and 13 rebounds. He also blocked seven shots.
Williams also had a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Also leading the Generals to victory were Marvin Jean (19 points, eight rebounds) and Drayton (12 points, five assists).