Dec 03, 2006 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In few places would the two-year absence of a championship be constituted as anything close to a drought.
Yet Jamesville-DeWitt is such a place, with a boys basketball team fully expected to win championships each winter.
In the two years since it won a state Class A title in 2004, the Red Rams have met with surprising exits — in the Class A final to Mexico in ’05, and in the A-2 semifinals to Indian River in ’06.
Those defeats have only made J-D hungrier. As head coach Bob McKenney and his players began 2006-07, the Rams were determined to have no one get in the way of a push toward more glory in March.
To that end, the team’s schedule is loaded with big challenges, from a Dec. 17 meeting with Niagara Falls at Manley Field House to its annual appearance at the CBA Holiday Classic with powers like Archbishop Malloy and St. Joe’s.
The journey began last Wednesday night, at Mexico, where J-D started quickly and never let the Tigers get off the mat on its way to a 71-51 victory.
Before Mexico could get settled, J-D had decided the matter by racing out to an 18-5 advantage through one quarter and a 39-18 lead by halftime.
Though sharp-shooting Greg Stern was quiet, the other Rams stars were not. Inside, Nick Pascale established himself with a team-best 17 points.
On the perimeter, highly-touted sophomore Brandon Triche drew heavy amounts of pressure, as usual, but still put up 16 points, while Mickey Davis got seven of his 15 points from the free-throw line.
From a defensive standpoint, the Rams did a good job of containment on the Tigers’ most dangerous player, hot-shooting guard Ben Ariola, holding him to 13 points and just a pair of 3-pointers.
This led directly to J-D’s annual Tip-Off Tournament, a gathering that, for 2006, included New Hartford, Corcoran and Massena.
Confronting New Hartford in Friday night’s opening round, the Rams prevailed, 81-62, and found a breakout star in sophomore Aishwan Hymes.
At 6-2 and 195 pounds, Hymes has both speed and shooting ability, and he torched New Hartford for 26 points off the bench as the Rams roared to a 51-24 halftime lead and cruised from there.
Triche also began to find his deadly form, matching Hymes with 26 points of his own as Davis (10 points) and Pascale (nine points) offered solid support. Mike Kelly, with 21 points, paced New Hartford’s effort.
Earlier, Corcoran had beaten Massena 62-41, setting up a rematch of last year’s final involving the Red Rams and Cougars.
It did not disappoint, either, as the two sides traded direct hits all the way through Saturday night’s title game before Triche took over down the stretch and the Red Rams prevailed, 86-73.
Corcoran led by as many as nine points in a wild second quarter, but the Rams clawed back and, when Stern drained his only 3-pointer of the night, J-D went to halftime nursing a 42-39 lead.
Led by Canisius College-bound senior Elton Frazier (18 points), Corcoran would place five players in double figures and keep pace with the Rams until the fourth quarter.
With less than six minutes left, it was still even, 65-65, but J-D closed the game on a 21-8 run, and most of that was Triche either sinking a long line of free throws or breaking away for monster dunks.
In all, Triche, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, had 31 points, 15 of them in the fourth quarter, and Hymes stayed hot as he and Pascale both finished with 17 points and joined Triche on the All-Tournament Team. Davis was right behind them, with 15 points. New Hartford beat Massena 58-49 in the consolation game.
J-D meets Fulton and Cortland this week, then plays West Genesee Saturday in the Brooklyn Pickle Shoot-Out at Henninger High School at 2 p.m. The Wildcats stunned CBA 66-59 in its opener last Friday, so the Rams know it will be a big test.