Dec 31, 2006 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Most of the time, Jamesville-DeWitt and Christian Brothers Academy are immense forces on the basketball court.
As the calendar turns to 2007, though, the two close neighbors could not be further apart, and the events of the 20th annual CBA Holiday Classic only increased the distance.
Even with an ailing center and a hobbling superstar, the Red Rams blew through St. Joseph’s (Buffalo) and Archbishop Molloy (Queens) to claim the first-place trophy and improve to 10-1.
At the same time, the Brothers lost to those same two foes and emerged with a 1-7 mark, unsure when, or if, things would turn around.
J-D arrived at the tournament with a lot of questions. It had found out that 6-10 junior center Nick Pascale was saddled with mononucleosis, so his minutes in the event would be limited as Alshwan Hymes got his chance to start.
Even more troubling, Brandon Triche had sprained his right ankle in practice the day after Christmas. The sophomore did not practice the next two days, hoping to have some effectiveness when game time rolled around.
When it did, Triche put on another blinding combination of skill and desire, helping the Rams win the tournament — and claiming tournament MVP honors in the process.
It started Friday night, against St. Joe’s, the state’s no. 2-ranked Class A team. Triche, with big help from Hymes and Mickey Davis, would humble the Marauders in the course of a 75-60 victory.
Triche used a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter to help J-D break out of a 17-17 tie and assume the lead for good. Another 9-0 spurt allowed the Rams to go the break with a 34-23 lead.
Late in the third quarter, with St. Joe’s still hanging around, Triche saw to it that the Marauders would not catch up.
He hit a 3-pointer, then another basket, then drove the lane and elevated (despite the bad ankle) for a high and ferocious dunk. To top it off, Triche hit two more 3-pointers from deep range.
In less than three minutes, Triche had scored 13 points (he finished with 27) and had pushed J-D to a 58-36 edge, not to let up until all the starters were on the bench.
As this was going on, Davis enjoyed one of his best games in a J-D uniform, as the junior had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Both Davis and Hymes (11 points) helped assure that the Rams’ front line did not suffer with Pascale seeing limited minutes.
This moved the Rams into Saturday night’s final, against Archbishop Molloy, whose legendary coach, Jack Curran, has sent stars like Kenny Anderson and Kenny Smith to the NBA ranks in his 47-year tenure.
Though it proved to be a tough and bruising battle, J-D still was up to it, and pulled away in the late stages to beat Molloy 70-55.
Setting much of the game’s tempo, Molloy slowed things up and showed terrific defensive discipline, forcing the Rams to exchange baskets with them throughout a close first half.
In fact, J-D was down 32-29 in the third quarter — which meant it was time for Triche to take over again.
During a span of 75 seconds, Triche (1) drove to the basket and completed a three-point play with a successful free throw, (2) drained a long 3-pointers, and (3) sank two more foul shots.
The Rams never trailed again, and Triche finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Hymes had 20 points, and took a larger role after Davis (nine points) injured his left ankle in the third quarter and left the game. Pascale even put up five points in a limited role.
While all this was going on, CBA was a mere spectator, having just dropped games to both of the same sides that J-D conquered.
In the opening round against Molloy, Marcus Sales returned from a four-game academic suspension and was superb — but his team fell apart in the second half of a 75-63 defeat.
Sales’ presence sparked the entire CBA offense in a red-hot first half where it hit on nine 3-pointers and led by as much as 18 before sprinting to the break with a 46-33 edge.
Molloy switched defenses, though, and sparked by Rocco Rubino’s 15 points in the third quarter (he finished with 22 points), it caught the Brothers by the end of the third quarter and used a 16-0 run to grab a lead it would not relinquish.
In defeat, Sales finished with 22 points, while Mike Paulus had a season-high 16 points. Mike Goodman, saddled by early foul trouble, had just eight points.
Goodman would play a much bigger role in the consolation game against St. Joe’s, and still it would not matter as the Brothers lost, 81-66, to the Marauders.
Trailing from the second quarter onward, CBA saw the deficit reach 15 (60-45) late in the third period before Sales and Goodman sparked a 13-2 spurt that pulled the Brothers closer.
St. Joe’s absorbed the blow, then struck back with a decisive 10-0 run of its own, negating Goodman’s 26 points as Sales (18 points) and Paulus (15 points) also had big outings.