Jan 09, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
So the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team must carry forward the rest of the season without Brandon Triche.
It doesn’t matter – every other team in Central New York wishes it had the Red Rams’ problems.
Displaying only a small amount of vulnerability, J-D made two local conquests in a span of 24 hours, improved to 13-1 on the season, and showed that it could back up its no. 1 state Class A ranking even without a superstar in its midst.
All this culminated Saturday night at LeMoyne College, in the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge, where the Rams avenged a 2006 loss in this same event to Fayetteville-Manlius by beating the Hornets 63-55.
“This showed that the rest of the guys can play, too,” said head coach Bob McKenney.
And no guy was more crucial to the effort than junior forward Nick Pascale. He hasn’t practiced in weeks due to mononucleosis, but had started to return to health. Now, he had the assignment of going head-to-head with F-M’s powerful senior center, Patrick Lee.
Clearly, Pascale won the battle in the first half, using a series of nifty moves and cuts to pour in 18 points and carry J-D’s attack. All of that was needed, too, as the Rams went to halftime clinging to a 31-27 lead.
It stayed close until the fourth quarter, mainly because the Hornets were able to dictate the game’s tempo through tight man-to-man defense and long possessions, taking away J-D’s ability to run on both fronts.
“We didn’t like the tempo, and we were not taking care of the ball,” said McKenney.
The Rams started to do both in the fourth quarter. With Pascale and Alshwan Hymes leading the way, J-D, only up 47-44, went on a decisive 11-3 run, and F-M never got closer than seven points again.
For the night, Pascale had 26 points, a season high, and added 10 rebounds. McKenney said that the criticism Nick took during his illness was unfair — and inaccurate, too.
“Everyone who questioned his heart was way off base,” the coach said. “He’s really answered the bell.”
Hymes continued his strong sophomore season, putting up 17 points, while Mickey Davis overcame his sore ankle to get 11 points off the bench. Lee finished with 18 points, most of them in the late going.
All this followed, by one day, the Rams’ first game without Triche, a nervous affair with East Syracuse-Minoa that turned into a romp in the second half as J-D defeated the Spartans 82-57.
Confident that it could run with the Rams, ESM played a strong and tough first half, matching baskets and going to the break nursing a 34-31 lead.
But the Spartans’ defense fell apart in the third quarter, allowing J-D to pile up 31 points in that frame and take charge.
Pascale (23 points) and Hymes (16 points) were the main threats, but Greg Stern was also important, temporarily breaking out of a season-long slump with four 3-pointers that accounted for most of his 16 points. Davis and Ed Hughes had eight points apiece.
No one on ESM came close to those kinds of numbers. Tom Sullivan led with 13 points, while Jason Kondra had 11 points and Gerg Lothridge added 10 points.