By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE In its first year of hosting the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III National Men’s Basketball Tournament, Sullivan County Community College opened the doors of the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse this past Thursday through Saturday to welcome the best eight Div. III teams in the United States of America and their fans.
The 12 games during the three afternoons and evenings provided plenty of slam dunks, 3-point shots and good defensive plays as the teams, coaches, cheerleaders and fans enjoyed being part of such an event.
The eight teams competing for the 2011 NJCAA Div. III national title included the host SUNY Sullivan Generals (District 5), SUNY Delhi Broncos (District 1), Joliet (Ill.) Junior College Wolves (District 2), Mountain View (Texas) Lions (District 3), Rochester (Minn.) Community and Technical College Yellowjackets (District 4), Ocean County (NJ) College Vikings (District 6), Davidson County (N.C.) Community College Storm (District 7) and Mass Bay (Mass.) Community College Buccaneers (District 8).
Game 8, which took place on Friday evening, was perhaps the best game of the entire tournament, as two teams which won their opening round games on Thursday, SCCC and Rochester CTC, played for the opportunity to advance to the Saturday night championship game.
Rochester CTC prevailed, 95-90, in double overtime.
Sullivan’s Frankie Drayton made two foul shots with 38.5 seconds remaining in regulation to even the score at 76-76.
With eight seconds left in the first OT, the Yellowjackets’ Colin Kurk made the second of two free throws to give his team an 84-82 lead.
But Drayton drove down the lane with four seconds to go and made a layup to even the score at 84-84.
With 3:55 on the scoreboard clock in the second overtime, Drayton made two foul shots to give the Generals an 86-84 lead.
At the 2:48 mark, Rochester’s made a jump shot to knot the game at 86-86. Joe Beck made one of his two free throws with 2:26 to go to give his team an 87-86 edge.
But Kareem Bernard scored less than 30 seconds later to put the Generals back in the lead, 88-87.
After Beck converted a traditional three-point play to put the Yellowjackets ahead with 1:30 to go, Drayton swished two more free throws to make it a 90-90 game with 1:15 to go.
Unfortunately for the Generals and their fans, Rochester’s Torren Dowdy went 5-of-6 at the line in the remaining time to seal the five-point victory for his team.
Seven SCCC players, including the starting five, fouled out of the game. Four Yellowjackets fouled out of the contest.
The Generals were 31-of-51 (61 percent) at the foul line, while Rochester was 30-of-55 (55 percent) at the line.
Drayton scored a game-high 27 points, while teammates Cleanthony Early and Bobby Jones also reached double digits with 20 points and 10 points, respectively.
Jordan Thorpe added five points for SCCC.
Dowdy led the Yellowjackets with 27 points and Chaz Sharp netted 25 points.
Beck registered with a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds.
With the win, the Yellowjackets advanced to Saturday night’s championship game, were they were defeated by the Mountain View (26-8) by the final score of 72-64.
During the awards ceremony immediately following the game, Mountain View’s Marcus Price was named the Tournament MVP, while teammate William Talton was a named to the All-Tournament Team.
Mountain View Head Coach LeRoi Phillips was honored as the Coach of the Tournament.
Rochester’s Beck was also named to the All-Tournament Team. Rochester finished its season with a 30-3 record.
In the consolation game prior to the title game, the SCCC (29-5) rebounded from its tough defeat the previous evening to top Ocean County (20-11) by the final score of 56-53 to earn third place.
Leading the Generals to the victory were Anthony, who scored 16 points, Marvin Jean (14 points) and Jordan Thorpe (10 points).
Anthony was named to the All-Tournament Team, as was the Vikings’ Darnell Braggs.
In Thursday night’s opening round, the Generals edged the Joliet Junior College, 52-51.
Drayton scored 13 points, while Anthony had a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds and Jones netted 11 points.
Bradley Elam and Brandon Redmond scored 12 points apiece to lead the Wolves’ offense.
Justin Reed and Andy Supergan added 11 points and 10 points, respectively, for Joliet.
Yesterday morning, SCCC Head Coach Kevin DeVantier reflected on the entire tournament experience.
After winning the Mid-Hudson Conference and Region XV Tournament titles, he, along with Assistant Coaches Gregg Semenetz and Dan DeVantier as well as everyone in the SCCC athletic department, administration and local community, were hoping the Generals would win the national title in the first year that the event will be held at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse. (The tourney will be held again here in Sullivan County next March and in March 2013.)
“It’s tough when you set the expectations so high,” Kevin DeVantier said. “But finishing in third place is a lot better than it could have been.”
DeVantier praised all of his players for their effort in the “emotionally and physically draining game” on Friday night.
“Our guys left everything out on the floor on Friday night,” he said. “We’re proud of that. Our effort was outstanding.”
Kevin DeVantier was also pleased with how the Generals worked hard to earn the third place trophy on Saturday night.
While 11 of the Generals are freshmen and expected to return next season, SCCC will lose sophomores Kareem Bernard, Jordan Thorpe and Travis Wright to graduation.
“Jordan Thorpe is irreplaceable,” Kevin DeVantier said. “He plays with heart and toughness. He’s what hard work is all about.”
“Kareem Bernard has played well and made some big shots for us this season,” Kevin DeVantier continued. “And Travis Wright made some big baskets for us in the [Mid-Hudson] conference tournament.”