Armed with its daunting reputation and talent, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team intended to conquer the entire field during last week's Stop DWI Tournament in Binghamton, where it would play three tough games in a span of 48 hours.
It all began Sunday at Broome County Veteran's Memorial Arena, when the Red Rams, assigned to the National division met Franklin County, a power from Kentucky. In what turned out to be its closest game so far, J-D got a career performance from Alshwan Hymes to beat the Flyers 85-79.
As it tends to do, the Rams started fast, shooting 62.5 percent in the first half and zooming to a 46-29 advantage. Hot from the outside, Hymes had 16 points, with Brandon Triche adding 11 points, and all their teammates got involved, too.
The margin grew to 66-45 before Franklin went off with a 36-point fourth quarter, forcing J-D to play hard down the stretch to stay in front.
Hymes finished with 29 points, hitting eight of the nine shots he took including a trio of 3-pointers. Triche, steady all night, had 23 points, including 10 free throws in the second half. Steven Thomson earned 10 points, with DaJuan Coelman adding eight points and Lamar Kearse earning six points.
J-D next faced Bishop Ford (Brooklyn) in Monday night's National division semifinal round. Ford, no. 4 in the state Class A rankings, had beaten Simon-Gratz (Philadelphia) 62-55 in its opening-round game.
This game would turn into yet another showcase for Triche, whose multiple skills helped push the Red Rams past the Falcons 73-56.
J-D plays Phoenix before next Friday night's televised showdown with Christian Brothers Academy -- the last team to beat the Red Rams, a full year and 28 games ago.
They were close in the first quarter, but ahead 19-17, J-D took command of the game by going on a 12-0 second-period run, seven of those points coming from Triche. Still, Ford provided an answer and only trailed by five, 32-27, at halftime.