Mar 17, 2008 Rob Jonas Uncategorized
Good teams find ways to win championship games. Great teams dominate championship games.
Jamesville-Dewitt’s boys basketball team proved itself to be a great team at last weekend’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association final four in Glens Falls.
After dispatching defending champion Peekskill 74-55 in Saturday’s semifinal, the Red Rams pulled away from a stubborn East Hampton squad with a 21-4 run and cruised to a 78-54 victory in Sunday’s class A final at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
It’s the second state title in five years for J-D, but the first for a senior class that had been criticized for failing to win the Section III title the previous three years.
“The first (state title in 2004) was thrilling because it was a two-point game, and it went down to the wire,” said J-D coach Bob McKenney. “This one was very satisfying. The kids came out and had a great weekend.”
Sunday’s final seemed almost anticlimactic after the Red Rams (24-2) defeated a Peekskill team that beat them by three points (63-60) back on Dec. 28 at a tournament in White Plains, but the championship game had its moments.
After trailing by double digits most of the second half, East Hampton (23-2) cut J-D’s lead to 57-50 three minutes into the fourth quarter and had a chance to make it a two-possession game if it hit its next shot.
The Red Rams never let that happen. Mickey Davis scored four consecutive points to rebuild J-D’s double-digit lead. Then Alshwan Hymes scored off an East Hampton turnover and was fouled on the play. Hymes made the ensuing free throw to put the Red Rams up 64-50, and the rout was back on.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” said Hymes, who finished with 14 points off the bench. “We just had to keep our composure and work through their run.”
“That’s what we needed,” said Brandon Triche. “We wanted to keep going at them, and Alshwan and Mickey finished their shots.”
J-D started the game strong by making its first five shots. East Hampton countered with Mike Russell, who fired in two three-pointers from behind the NBA three-point arc. In all, the Bonackers made five threes to stay within striking distance.
J-D put some distance between itself and East Hampton over the final four minutes of the second quarter. Three-pointers by Davis and Triche highlighted a 13-2 Red Ram run that gave J-D a 40-25 advantage. The Bonackers didn’t cut the deficit under double digits until early in the fourth quarter, and that proved to be a short-lived rally.
Davis led a balanced J-D attack with 19 points. Triche, the tournament’s most valuable player, contributed 17 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Pascale used his 6-foot, 10-inch frame to dominate down low with 14 points and 19 rebounds.
“Having that size has been a huge plus,” said McKenney of his frontcourt, which stood head and shoulders above East Hampton s forwards. “I thought we did a great job of exploiting it early on.”
Marcus Edwards had 15 points, and Russell contributed 14 points for East Hampton, which made fewer than 30 percent of its shots after the first quarter.
“To their credit, they’re a great team, they didn’t go away,” McKenney said of the Bonackers. “That No. 10 (Russell) can shoot from anywhere.”
J-D faced another player who could shoot from anywhere when it played Mookie Jones and the Peekskill Red Devils in Saturday’s semifinal.
The Syracuse University-bound Jones scored 23 points, but the rest of his team only managed 32 points. More importantly for J-D, Jones’ defensive effectiveness was limited in the second half after he picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter.
“When you get that fourth foul early, it’s hard,” said McKenney. “He had to be careful not to drive to the basket, and he had to be careful not to block any shots. It’s impressive that he didn’t foul out.”
At the time Jones picked up his fourth foul, J-D had turned a 26-22 halftime deficit into a 36-31 lead. By the time the third quarter was over, the Red Rams had pulled away to a 54-35 advantage behind 13 points from Hymes, who came in after starting forward Marcus Williams picked up his fourth foul early in the period.
“I was open for shots,” said Hymes, who finished with a team-high 22 points. “If I wasn’t open, I was going to drive and create some shots.”
“Alshwan is really a starter,” said McKenney. “He plays starter minutes. We just like the energy he brings off the bench.”
Triche contributed 16 points in the semifinal win, and Pascale added 14 points, plus 17 rebounds.
J-D now gets two weeks off before the Federation Tournament back in Glens Falls, and McKenney said he ll give his team a little time to heal up and savor this state title.
“The week off will help us,” he said.