Rams cruise to state final four, await Peekskill

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.

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