Jan 31, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Here was where the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team was going to discover how tough it was, exactly a month after its biggest star went to the sidelines.
On the road, against an elite, state-ranked Class AA opponent, and with Brandon Triche watching on crutches from the bench, the Red Rams found out that it’s still pretty good, defeating Henninger 66-56 last Tuesday night.
“This win defines our season,” said junior forward Nick Pascale. “It proves that we can play with anyone.”
J-D spent all of January atop the state Class A rankings, rising to that spot even after Triche tore his ACL Dec. 30 in the finals of the CBA Holiday Classic.
What’s more, it came to Henninger well-rested and full of energy. Following a win over Cortland Jan. 17, The Red Rams had played just once in the next 13 days, an easy victory over Phoenix on Jan. 26, so it had time to heal, get well and prepare for the homestretch.
On the same night that J-D ripped Phoenix, Henninger, 14-1 and in the state Class AA top 10, suffered a bitter 48-42 overtime loss to Fayetteville-Manlius.
Angered by that outcome, the Black Knights came home and was determined to give David Simmons, Marquis Kirkland and Stefen Gage a proper send-off on Senior Night.
J-D ruined those plans, though, with a superb all-around effort, especially on the defensive side. Junior forward Mickey Davis shadowed Simmons, Henninger’s leading scorer, and held him without a point in the first half.
Head coach Bob McKenney said J-D wanted to “pack the paint”, giving Simmons and 7-foot junior center Ben Cronin little room to maneuver. Cronin would work hard for his 16 points as Simmons finished with eight points.
Despite this great defense, the Rams went to halftime nursing a 26-22 lead, and McKenney said his team knew it had to increase the tempo.
“We had to do a better job running the floor,” he said.
Alshwan Hymes listened, and the talented sophomore lit the spark in the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers. In all, Hymes had eight of his 15 points in a 16-4 run over three minutes that pushed J-D to a 42-26 lead.
“He is showing that he is a great all-around player,” said McKenney.
Henninger fought all the way to the end, but never got closer than six points (59-53) again. Ben Bratek and Ed Hughes each got four points off the bench as Greg Stern (eight points) and Sam Cieplicki (six points) announced their presence, too.
Among the stars, the balance was close to perfect. Pascale stood up well in his battles with Cronin and Simmons and matched Hymes with 15 points, while Davis showed his smooth range to produce 14 points.
J-D hopes not to have a letdown Friday night, when it plays Chittenango.