Herkimer advances to basketball's national semifinals with 79-72 win
Loch Sheldrake, NY – It was a hectic, long, exhausting game, but the Herkimer Five prevailed. The Generals took the lead shortly before the half, and despite several gallant tries by Sullivan, #4 Herkimer defeated #3 Sullivan 79-72. Herkimer earned a berth in the semifinals of this national championship tournament and will face #1-ranked Brookdale CC Friday evening.
The first half was a game of scoring streaks. Herkimer led 3-0, but Sullivan then went on a 7-0 run. Then it was the Generals' turn – Herkimer scored 17 consecutive points and owned a 22-7 lead after only eight minutes of play.
Sullivan, however, was not about to yield. They had already won 27 games this season, and they were playing in front of a near-capacity, very loud home crowd. The home team chipped away at Herkimer's lead, and closed to 22-15.
Dequan Jefferson stole the ball under the Sullivan basket, then went coast-to-coast to score. Both Jefferson and Jonathan Feiler added a pair of free throws, and the lead was back to 10, at 28-18. Then Sullivan started another scoring run. The home team took the lead 29-28 with 5:35 left in the half. They upped it to 31-28, but Herkimer got going again.
Jefferson and Demetrius Mitchell sank FTs. Jefferson made another steal and coast-to-coast scoring run. The lead was back in Herkimer hands.
Todd Hunt spun and pushed in a two. Feiler turned and tallied two. Herkimer led 37-33 at the half, and they would stay in front until the final buzzer.
Neither team shot as well as usual, but both teams played with terrific intensity. Key Herkimer players Feiler and Hunt ran into serious foul trouble, but Head Coach Matt Lee once again relied on this team's impressive depth to weather the storm.
Region 3 tournament MVP Jerome Floyd had another remarkable game. He set up several Herkimer scores with crisp passes. Floyd also led the Herkimer scoring with 19 points, going 11 for 14 from the foul line.
The final minutes had everyone present on the edge of their seats. Sullivan closed to 57-52 with seven minutes to play. Then they made it 66-63 with 2:46 remaining, but Floyd hit two FTs, and Jason Foden sprang Mitchell loose with a long pass. Mitchell's layup made it 71-64. Mitchell was fouled on the play, and he sank the free throw.
Fittingly it was Floyd who scored Herkimer's final four points. The game was one of the most major in the program's history, and the Generals won it 79-72.
The Herkimer Five will now play in the semifinals, taking on the Jersey Blues of Brookdale CC on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. The game can be seen via live streaming through the tournament website: http://www.championships-sullivan.com/
Nick Scribe, website writer
Herkimer scoring: Davis 2, Hunt 14, Floyd 19, Jefferson 10, Thomas 2, Feiler 17, Mitchell 15 – Total 79