By Paul Gotham
ROCHESTER, NY — Dallas Gary (Buffalo,NY/Buffalo) led three in double figures as the Monroe Community College Tribunes outlasted the Sullivan County Community College Generals, 86-76 in the Country Inn and Suites Tournament on George Monagan Court.
Gary tallied six straight from the tipoff and paced Monroe to a lead it never surrendered.
The 6-5 sophomore knocked down a three on a kick out from Reuben Berry (Bronx, NY/Danbury), and the Tribunes were off and running. He followed that on the next possession with a spin dribble in the lane to create space and a finger roll. One free throw later, and the Tribs led 6-0.
Gary finished with a game-high 25 and 46 points for the weekend.
“They’re defense was sagging off me like they were expecting me to drive more to the lane,” Gary said. ”I figured I shoot the three and try and open it up.”
Jahvari Josiah (Brooklyn, NY/Beach Channel) hit one of two free throws, finished a lay up in transition and then found Gary ahead of the pack for an easy deuce.
“Like I said yesterday, I give all the credit to my teammates,” Gary added.
Josiah stretched the lead to 11 with a pair of dunks prompting a timeout from the Sullivan bench.
Gary knocked down a long trey with just over three minutes remaining to give the MCC its largest lead of the half at 34-19.
“I thought our offense was good. I just thought our defense broke down a lot,” said Monroe head coach Jerry Burns. “We played hard, but we didn’t play that smart. There was a lot of mis-communication, especially in crucial situations.”
The Generals scratched and clawed their back into the game.
Marcus Henderson (Newburgh Free Academy) scored nine of his team-high 24 early in the second half as Sullivan closed to within two at 43-41.
Tashwan Desir (Brooklyn, NY/Nia Prep) responded with eight points to push the Monroe lead back to nine. Desir hit a catch-and-shoot three when Josiah saved a ball going out-of-bounds and fed his teammate. Kenny Johnson (Philadelphia, PA/Abington Friends) found Desir on the break for an lay in.
But the Generals refused to give in. Henderson connected on a pull up jumper, and Willie Wiiliams III(Stamford Academy) tapped in his own miss. Sullivan trailed 54-51.
“They’re well coached, and they play extremely hard,” said Monroe head man Jerry Burns. “They never gave up.”
Gary and Desir traded points to get the lead back to 12. The pair knocked down back-to-back threes before combining to hit six free throws.
Sullivan kept the Tribunes off-balance throughout the second half with a combination of a three-quarter and full court press. After starting the game 8-20 from the free throw line, the Tribunes hit 15 of their last 17 from the charity stripe. Desir and Johnson combined to go 10-10 in the final moments to seal the victory.
“They didn’t pack it in,” Burns said of Sullivan’s press. ”No one has done that so far.”
“We just had to calm down,” Johnson said when asked about attacking Sullivan’s defense. “Nobody has press us yet this year.”
Gary hit 7-10 from the field and 5-5 from behind the arc.
Desir added 23 points on 8-17 shooting and 2-5 from long range.
Josiah chipped in with 10.
Gary and Ta-Quan Zimmerman (Waterbury, CT/Waterbury) pulled down six rebounds each.
Zimmerman took two charges.
Johnson had a game-high five assists with one turnover. The sophomore guard nine points and three steals. Johnson finished with a dozen assists for the weekend.
Monroe’s defense created 12 first-half turnovers and 18 for the game.
Henderson paced Sullivan with 24 points.
Williams had a game-high 16 rebounds and nine points.
Monroe improves to 4-0 on the season. The Tribs take on rival Erie Community College next. The two meet in TJ Memorial Classic at Lakeland Community College in Ohio.