This is only year two of being a Division II team at the junior college level, but already, SUNY Sullivan has proven it belongs.

A 26-2 record, 7-1 in Region XV play, and a No. 2 national ranking marks a distinct leap from the eight-loss season of a year ago. This weekend presents an opportunity for the Generals to march further into the postseason than they did in 2019. Hosting the District East A/B tournament, Sullivan is a semifinal win away from clinching a position in the National Junior College Athletic Association Div. II tournament. Sullivan will host Erie Community College Saturday at 2 p.m.

Head coach Brent Wilson said the reason for the improvement can be tied to the leadership of key second-year players. That list starts with Darius Lee, averaging 18 points, nine rebounds and just shy of four assists. Lee is a major part of the reason the Generals are posting 92 points and 10 rebounds an outing.

“I can’t speak any higher of him,” Wilson said.

Returners Josh Galloway and Kendall Robinson have helped Sullivan accumulate a slew of notable wins throughout the season. Wilson points out the victories over Cecil College (89-82 on Nov. 10) and Niagara Community College (79-78 on Jan. 11), two strong Division II squads, as proof of how good Sullivan is this year. “We’ve climbed little by little,” he said.

And each bit of success aids in the future. Wilson has already seen the team’s dominance pay off in recruiting. The enrollment has increased at the school, and the athletics department is expanding. They have added junior varsity programs and next year, plan to push the start button on their e-sports team.

Each win in the playoffs, Wilson knows, makes Sullivan that much more appealing for prospective recruits, as well as students who value attending a college with strong athletics. It also boosts the profiles of guys like Lee, who is currently being scouted by four-year schools and will make his decision about his next destination after the season.

But first, there is a game to win this weekend. Potentially two. Sullivan missed the NJCAA tournament by one game in 2019, falling at Erie College to Niagara. This time, Sullivan has earned home-court advantage. But with what Wilson believes is one of the toughest draws of anyone — SUNY Orange and Essex Community College face off at Sullivan at noon on the other side of the bracket — there will be no guarantees.

“In order to win a championship,” Wilson said, “you’re going to have to beat somebody who’s really good at some point.”

jfedich@th-record.com

Twitter: @jfedichTHR