SYRACUSE, NY. – December 13, 2010 – Onondaga Community College played host to three of the top Division III junior college basketball programs in the country over the weekend in the 4th edition of the Onondaga Community College Classic. On Saturday, the Lazers faced 4-time National Junior College Athletic Association champion Sullivan County Community College and came away with an 82-73 overtime win against the Generals, who are currently ranked #10 in the nation. On Sunday, Onondaga fell just short of making it two wins in two days against ranked opposition, as Mass Bay Community College, currently #9 in the nation, captured the Classic championship with a 77-71 win over the Lazers in the title game.
On Saturday, Sullivan scored the game’s first points on a three-point goal, but Onondaga responded with a 20-7 run over the next 8 minutes to take a 20-10 advantage midway through the first half. The Lazers continued to extend the lead, taking as much as a 20-point advantage late in the first half, before settling for a 41-24 advantage at the break. Heath Stone (Chittenango) paced the Lazers in their strong start, scoring 15 of his game high and career best 32 points in the opening half. Sullivan came out strong to start the second half, however, outscoring the Lazers, 28-13, over the first 9 minutes of the second half to pull within 2 points at 54-52, with 10:43 remaining in regulation. The teams then battled on even terms over the final 10 minutes of the second half. With the Lazers holding a 66-63 lead, Sullivan’s Cleanthony Early connected on a three-pointer to tie the game, and when Onondaga’s Andrew Lucio (Solvay) had a jumper bounce out the game headed to overtime. With the game tied at 71 in the extra session, Onondaga’s Jesse Gates (Liverpool) scored, was fouled, and converted the free throw to put the Lazers up 3. Tom Graf (Jordan-Elbridge) followed with a three-pointer to extend the Onondaga advantage to 6, and the Lazers were able to convert 6 attempts from the free throw line the rest of the way to hold off the Generals.
Stone’s outstanding 32-point effort also included 10 of 14 shooting from the floor and 13 rebounds. Brandon Seibt (Central Square P.V. Moore) added 15 points, while Gates recorded 13 points and 8 rebounds and Lucio chipped in 12 points and handed out a team high 8 assists. For the game, Onondaga shot 42.0% from the floor and limited Sullivan to 32.9% shooting. The Lazers owned a 54-47 rebounding advantage and a 36-24 edge in points in the paint.
Sunday’s championship game against Mass Bay started out in opposite fashion to the Sullivan game. This time it was the visiting Buccaneers that got out to the fast start, jumping out to a 13-4 advantage 6 minutes into the game. Mass Bay maintained the lead throughout the opening half, and extended it to 42-28 at intermission. This time it was Onondaga that staged the rally, however, as the Lazers opened the half on a 14-3 run, capped by a Gates three-pointer to close the gap to 45-42 with 14:44 to go. Mass Bay steadied itself, however, and was able to build the lead back to 10, at 56-46, midway through the half. The Lazers again responded, and when Delbert Jenkins (Cicero-North Syracuse) connected on a three-pointer Onondaga found itself down only 2 at 58-56, with 7:05 to go. A 12-2 Buccaneer run pushed the lead back to 12, before Onondaga made one last surge. The Lazers were able to get within 4 twice in the game’s final minutes, but couldn’t get any closer, as Mass Bay went 9 for 10 from the foul line in the last three minutes to hold on for the win.
Gates led the Onondaga attack with 23 points. Seibt and Stone also reached double figures with 10 points apiece. Stone also led the Lazers with 10 rebounds, while Lucio handed out a team best 6 assists. A strong defensive effort by Mass Bay, limiting the Lazers to 38.5% shooting and forcing 16 Onondaga turnovers, proved to be a key factor in the game. The Buccaneers shot 47.2% from the floor themselves, and connected on 23 of 34 free throws in the game, compared to 14 of 18 for the Lazers. Onondaga outrebounded Mass Bay, 39-34.
Mass Bay’s Robert Hunter, who scored a game high 24 points in the championship game, was named the Classic’s Most Outstanding Player. He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Heath Stone and Jesse Gates from Onondaga, Samuel Etienne from Mass Bay, Marvin Jean from Sullivan, and Eddie Jenkins from Anne Arundel Community College.
Onondaga now breaks for final exams and the Christmas holiday season with an overall record of 8-4. The Lazers will return to action on January 4, 2010, as they host Columbia Greene Community College at 3:00 pm.
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