Second-half surge carries Generals to victory
Dryden,NY – It was the Generals' first game after the Thanksgiving break, and throughout the first half they looked rusty. The host Tompkins Cortland ("TC3") Panthers were the better team in those first 20 minutes on Wednesday evening.
But this was a game of two distinctly different halves. The Herkimer Five adjusted their tactics after the break, producing 44 second-half points and a come-from-behind, 69-56 win.
The game was Herkimer's third visit to the Panthers' den during the six seasons that the new facility has been open, and the Generals were 0-2 in their first two visits. For half of Wednesday's game it looked as if they were heading for another loss. The first stanza ended with the Big Cats ahead 35-25.
Photo: Dequan Jefferson soaring high and carefully placing the ball through the hoop
When the second stanza began, Herkimer looked like a different team. Jerome Floyd drained a three to open the scoring. Jonathan Feiler sank two free throws, and the home team's lead was down to five points, 35-30. However, the Generals were still not in control. Then Demetrius Mitchell stepped up and provided the offensive spark that the team needed.
Mitchell hit for three from the right side. 35-33. The Panthers scored two points, but Todd Hunt equaled that with a putback. Then Mitchell struck again, this time from nine feet behind the arc. That long three-pointer gave Herkimer their first lead of the game, 38-37.
TC3 scored two, but Feiler's two free throws put the Generals back on top by a point. Hunt sank a three, making it 43-39, and the visitors were in front to stay.
Mitchell sank another three from the center of the arc, lifting Herkimer to the 50-point mark. 50-41. Steady senior Mitchell would go on to score 14 points in the half – points that came at the right time to establish and solidify Herkimer's lead.
The Panthers did not go quietly. They made some desperation fouls at the end, but Steve Whittingham's two free throws and Dequan Jefferson's two pairs of FTs sealed the win. The final score was 69-56.
Photo: Jon Feiler with an emphatic dunk in the second half
After the contest, Coach Lee praised the squad's improved team play in the second half. He discussed Mitchell's rising to the occasion, noting, "Demetrius has been doing that all season. He's playing like a senior – he's playing smart." Lee called it a "tough road game" against a worthy TC3 team. Lee also had praise for Jason Foden, noting, "Jay did some good things for us out there tonight."
The Generals' record is now 7-1. The team will be back in action on Saturday when they host Cayuga. Herkimer's women will host Cayuga's women at 1:00 p.m., and the men's skirmish will begin at 3:00.
Nick Scribe, website writer
Herkimer scoring: Davis 4, Floyd 10, Whittingham 6, Mitchell 19, Hunt 5, Jefferson 8, Thomas 2, Feiler 15 – Total 69