Mar 11, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Between the immense relief of breaking a four-year Section III Class A title drought and the immense anticipation of a state semifinal showdown with three-time defending champion Peekskill, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team got two weeks to sharpen all its tools for the biggest games of all.
Sure, there was a Class A regional final to get through — but that turned into a one-sided romp, as the Red Rams went to Troy’s Hudson Valley Community College last Saturday and crushed Section II champion Bishop Gibbons 74-34.
With the win, J-D moved into its first state final four since its undefeated championship run of 2004, with a team that arguably has more talent and scoring ability than that ’04 squad.
Back when the Red Rams beat New Hartford for the sectional title at Manley Field House March 2, head coach Bob McKenney said his team had gone through the most stressful part, that the pressure would ease off a bit now that it had escaped the sectional cauldron.
Perhaps McKenney was right — but it helped, to no small end, that J-D faced a Bishop Gibbons team playing for the third time in four days.
Due to bad weather in the Albany area that forced early-week postponements, the Golden Knights had to wait to play its Section II Class A final until last Wednesday night. Once successful there, Gibbons had to turn around and play a regional game (beating Massena 69-59) on Friday night at HVCC.
Knowing all this, the Rams aimed to push the tempo right from the opening tip-off and use its size advantage to offset the Golden Knights’ speed and quickness.
For the first time since returning to the court after suffering a torn ACL in December 2006, Brandon Triche played without a knee brace, and torched Gibbons for eight points and three assists in the first quarter to set the tone for the rest of the game.
That work, combined with Mickey Davis connecting on a pair of 3-pointers and some inside baskets, made it 20-8 before the first quarter was over.
By halftime, that margin had grown to 36-14, and Gibbons just could not summon the energy for a comeback. The Rams’ defense had something to do with that, holding the Golden Knights under 27 percent in field-goal shooting and picking up 48 rebounds to Gibbons’ 30.
Free to run with something close to the abandon he showed before the knee injury, Triche compiled 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists before going to the bench in the fourth quarter, with the game well out of hand.
Davis finished with 13 points, while Alshwan Hymes and Marcus Williams each put up nine points and Nick Pascale added eight points. More importantly, Willams and Pascale reinforced the Rams’ domination on the boards.
This leads, of course, to J-D’s showdown with Peekskill, set for 10:45 a.m. Saturday at Glens Falls Civic Center.
Dating back to last season, Peekskill has won 37 in a row. One of those games was a tense battle with J-D on Dec. 28 in White Plains where Peekskill had to come from behind to prevail 63-60. That was the Rams’ last defeat.
All eyes will be on Triche as he squares off with Peekskill senior Mookie Jones, a top-50 national recruit headed to Syracuse University next fall. The winner of this game gets East Hampton (from Long Island) or Buffalo East in Sunday’s state final at 1 p.m.