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.