High energy and excitement surrounded the Jamesville-DeWitt girls basketball team after its last-second victory over Fayetteville-Manlius in the finals of the J-D Tip-Off Tournament on Dec. 2.
Still, the 4-0 Red Rams had to wait until its fifth game, a visit from 4-0 Cortland last Thursday night, to see where it stood among OHSL Freedom division title contenders.
And J-D is in pretty good shape, especially after it showed great poise down the stretch again in a 66-59 win over the Purple Tigers.
With both teams itching to run, the pace was quick from the start, and neither side would lead by more than six in the first half.
Deanna Bishop's 12 points (she would finish with 20 points) helped keep Cortland close, but J-D spread its scoring around well, and went to the break with a 33-31 lead.
After a quiet third quarter where the Rams clung to its slim margin, the Purple Tigers caught up, 49-49, on Amanda Lawlor's 3-pointer and Fawn Lolar's rebound basket with 4:19 left.
Moments later, though, Amanda Koenck hit her own 3-pointer and put J-D ahead for good. Koenck, more than anyone, pushed the Rams in front, as she got all 15 of her points in the second half and sank four 3-point field goals.
To hang on, J-D hit on seven of eight free throws in the last two minutes of play as Koenck, Megan Maycumber, Brittany Cohen and Alyssa Gratien all contributed at the line.
Cohen had 14 points, while Caitlin Tessier poured in 13 points and Gratien earned 10 points. Danielle Weekes, harmed again by foul trouble, was held to seven points.
As a whole, J-D's defense, led by Tessier, did a fine job containing Cortland's high-octane junior guard, Shannon Finucane, holding her to 12 points, well below her season average.