Ever since Amanda Koenck returned to the lineup, the Jamesville-DeWitt girls basketball team had shown the same spark and confidence that caused so many to consider them Section III Class A title contenders before Koenck's knee injury.
The culmination of this late-season run came last Wednesday night, when the Red Rams marched right into Cortland and gave the Purple Tigers its first OHSL Freedom division defeat in a 62-48 decision.
Cortland had won a one-point decision over the Koenck-less Rams back on Dec. 19, using that game as the springboard for a 17-0 start and an ascent to the no. 5 spot in the state Class A rankings.
However, Cortland's quest for an undefeated season got halted when West Genesee beat the Purple Tigers 61-59 two nights before J-D came into town. Now the Rams would top what WG pulled off, aided in no small part by the absence of a key Cortland contributor, Deanna Bishop, who did not start.
A closely played first half echoed their December battle - and though the Purple Tigers fared slightly better, the Red Rams were quite content going into halftime with a modest 23-21 deficit.
Suddenly, in the third quarter J-D took charge, wearing down Cortland with a quick tempo that led to easy baskets and a 41-25 domination of the rest of the proceedings.
Megan Maycumber's emergence as a late-season offensive force continued as she poured in 19 points. This took immense pressure off Brittany Cohen, who joined Alyssa Gratien as they both finished with 13 points. Molly Maroney added five points.
J-D, on the defensive side, watched Cortland's Amanda Lawlor pour in 26 points, but did a terrific job containing Shannon Finucane, holding her to eight points, well below her season average.
With this win, the Rams closed out the regular season at 15-5, but had all the confidence and momentum it could ever want as it awaits Tuesday's announcement of the Section III Class A playoff pairings.