Even amid the pageantry of Senior Night, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team found time to send an emphatic message to any other challenger in the upcoming Section III Class A playoffs.
Against East Syracuse-Minoa, the state Class A no. 1-ranked Red Rams started five seniors that normally come off the bench -- but they held their own, and when the rest of the team kicked into gear, it proceeded to kick away the Spartans 81-59.
When the game tipped off, all of the Rams' normal starters -- Mickey Davis, Nick Pascale, Alshwan Hymes, Greg Stern and Sam Cieplicki -- were on the bench.
Instead, it was senior reserves Frank Barriero, Ed Hughes, Matt Natoli, Vinny Graham and Ben Bratek on the floor, holding their own -- and then some -- against the 13-5 Spartans and giving an 11-8 lead to the starters.
Once out there, the main Rams could not put ESM away. The Spartans, led by Jason Kondra (18 points) Tom Sullivan (15 points) and Sean Halligan (12 points), matched runs with J-D well into the second half.
What finally alerted the Rams to the danger was when Sullivan was fouled on a 3-point attempt late in the third quarter. Sullivan made all three free throws, cutting J-D's edge to 46-42.
Before the quarter ended, though, Pascale had hit a jumper and Hymes drained a 3-pointer. That launched a 12-0 run, from which ESM could not recover.
Hymes led both sides with 21 points. Davis put home 14 points, while Barriero capitalized on his starting opportunity to earn 10 points. Pascale had seven points and did a strong defensive job on ESM forward Greg Lothridge, holding him to six points.
As J-D basked in its 19-1 regular-season mark, the Spartans had to come back the next day to play Fulton, making up a game snowed out earlier in the week.