By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE Everyone involved with the Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) men’s basketball program knows that winning the fifth National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III championship in school history will not be an easy task.
But they also realize that the Generals, who are 27-4 so far this season, need to win just three more games to claim the title. And all three of those games will be played at “The Bunker” at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on SCCC’s Loch Sheldrake campus.
The tournament is set to begin next Thursday, March 10. In addition to the Generals, the other teams which have already qualified for the tourney include defending champion Joliet (Ill.) Community College, SUNY Delhi, Ocean County (NJ) College, Mountain View (Texas) Community College and Rochester (Minn.) Community and Technical College.
As he watched the Generals practice on Tuesday afternoon, SCCC Athletic Director Chris DePew noted that hosting the national tourney is a great deal of work for everyone at the college.
But to have a chance to be the host school and win the title is special.
“It’s like the perfect storm, everything came together,” DePew said. “We’re playing in the tournament in our first year of hosting and SUNY Delhi, where the tourney was previously held, will have its team here as well.”
SCCC will also host the NJCAA Div. III championship tournament next March and in March 2013.
After taking a quick look around the Fieldhouse, DePew noted that “it’s going to be crazy here next Thursday.”
SCCC will play Joliet in the opening round on Thursday. If they can defeat the defending champs as they did back in November at the first annual The Lodge at Rock Hill Classic Tournament at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse the Generals will be one step closer to winning that fifth national title.
“We’re ready,” freshman point guard Frankie Drayton said. “But we know we have to take it one game at a time.”
Freshman forward Cleanthony Early, who had a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Generals in their 100-82 victory on Sunday over Bronx Community College in the Region XV title game, is also looking forward to the national tourney.
“It’s really exciting,” he said. “We have to go out and give 100 percent in each game.”
Freshman forward Marvin Jean earned the MVP Award at both the Mid-Hudson Conference and Region XV tournaments. Like his teammates, he is focused on winning the national title at home.
“We’re hungry and we want to get that championship ring,” Jean said.
Coach Kevin DeVantier and Assistant Coaches Dan DeVantier and Gregg Semenetz are busy conducting practices and preparing a game plan for the opening round game against Joliet.
Following Tuesday’s practice, Kevin DeVantier noted that while earning the conference and regional titles are great accomplishments for the program, everyone wants to win three more games.
“We all want to win, and we especially want to win for Jordan and Kareem,” Devantier said.
DeVantier was referring to Jordan Thorpe and Kareem Bernard, who are the team’s two sophomores.
Note: All-Tournament passes ($25 Adults/$15 students) and two-game session tickets ($9 adults/$6 students) are now available.
Tickets can be purchased on game day in the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse. All-Tournament passes can be purchased in advance by calling Georgia Lyons at 434-5750, ext. 4294.