Generals bumped from national championship contention

(Enson Garcia scores two of his team-high 17 points on an assist from Wendall Williams in the NJCAA National Quarterfinal).

LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY – The Herkimer Generals quest to capture a national championship this season ended on Thursday at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse, losing to Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute 82-65.

Herkimer (25-8) went into the game defending their Region III Championship against Clinton Community College. In that game, nothing came together until the final three minutes of regulation, capturing the lead with three minutes left, never relinquishing it to the Cougars.

Against the Cobras, Herkimer had a similar start, trading leads six times in the first eight minutes, but never gaining a lead more than a point due to poor execution. It led to turnovers and fouls on the defensive end, which caught up with the team in the second half.  Despite their troubles, the team never allowed the lead to get more than seven points in the first half, getting contributions from all over.

With the team down 19-12, an offensive rebound and bucket from sophomore Anthony Lanieri (Port Jefferson, NY), two free throws by Enson Garcia (Bronx, NY), field goal by Jonathan Feiler (St. James, NY) – assisted by Lanieri – three-point field goal by Wendall Williams (Syracuse, NY) and steal by Lanieri led to a Williams fast break layup, getting the Generals within two points (25-23) with five minutes left in the half. Lanieri finished the game with six points and three rebounds; Garcia finished with a team-high 17 points, four rebounds and two steals; Feiler finished with 14 points, seven rebound and three blocks; Williams finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Answering from three-point land, like they did the entire game, Caldwell sank two three pointers on consecutive possessions, mounting a 31-25 lead with less than three minutes left. It erased an 11-6 run by the Generals, pushing the lead back to six points.

Herkimer answered back, making it 31-28 after a Jerrell Hunter (Utica, NY) steal and layup, but the Cobras rallied, answering with consecutive baskets, until Julio Galay (Bronx, NY) scored the final points of the half for the Generals, sinking two foul shots – on his way to eight points and four rebounds in the game – making the score 38-33, in favor of Caldwell.

In the second half, Herkimer came out playing well, scoring on their first two possessions. Feiler sank a 15’ jumper, then blocked a shot on the other end which led to a Galay layup. Assisting on the play was Williams, getting the Generals within one (38-37).

One point was the closest Herkimer would get within the lead, having Caldwell answer right back with consecutive three pointers, on their way to a 6-0 run and eventual 11 point lead (50-39) with over 16 minutes left in regulation. It didn’t stop there, Feiler got his fourth foul with 15:39 left, and Garcia got his fourth with 13:08 left, putting both on the bench. Herkimer didn’t have two of their top scoring threats on the court for six minutes, which allowed the Cobras to hold a 10-point lead with 10 minutes left.

Keeping the game within reach was RaShawn Collins (Harlem, NY), Galay, Williams, Hunter and Lanieri. They held their own for three minutes, until Feiler and Garcia came back in with 10:23 left in regulation.

Unable to remain aggressive, Herkimer kept the game within 12 points until the final six minutes, where Caldwell Tech ended the game on a 12-6 run, reaching a lead of 19 points (80-61). Herkimer had their final two buckets of the game come from Lanieri and Feiler, losing the game by 17 (82-65).

At games end, Herkimer shot 40 percent from the field and 13 percent from three, two of their lowest figures this season. On the opposite end, Caldwell only shot 38 percent from the field, but they got to the foul line 27 times and hit 11 three pointers, good enough for 39 percent from deep.

The Generals will play two more consolation games at Sullivan Community College to finish out the NJCAA National Championship Tournament. On Friday (3/14) they’ll play Anoka-Ramsey. The Rams lost to Eastfield in the opening round. Tip-off between both teams is scheduled for 12 p.m. at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse. If Herkimer wins their two games on Friday and Saturday, they can be fifth in the nation.

-Giorgio Varlaro; Athletic Website Manager

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