Mar 23, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
They worked together, sweated together and relentlessly drove through a season where nothing short of greatness was expected.
And by doing so, right up to the last second, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team earned a solitary place in the record books as the first Section III team to ever win back-to-back New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.
The Red Rams confirmed that greatness in the most exciting way possible, battling past Peekskill 77-75 in an overtime classic during Sunday’s state Class A title game at Glens Falls Civic Center.
Everyone, from the star trio of Brandon Triche, Alshwan Hymes and DaJuan Coleman, to the supporting cast led by Lamar Kearse and Steven Thompson, had to be at their best to win against Peekskill in a game as good as any state final in recent memory.
Between them, the Red Rams and Red Devils had won the last five state titles — J-D winning in 2004, Peeskill taking over the next three years, then J-D taking it back in 2008, beating Peekskill in the semifinals along the way.
So on familiar Glens Falls ground, the two powerhouses squared off once more, and produced a masterpiece.
Peekskill led most of the first half, its diminutive point guard, Daquan Brickhouse, hurting J-D on all fronts with his dribbling, passing and 3-point shots. He had 14 points in the first half alone.
J-D only sneaked ahead once, at 28-27 in the second quarter, but was down again 37-31 when, in the last minute of the half, it started to turn.
After Coleman hit a basket, a Peekskill player got whistled for a technical foul, and Hymes sank the ensuing free throws, making it 37-35 at the break.
From that point forward, neither side would have a lead larger than four points, as the lead switched hands four times in the third quarter and ended with Ralph Watts hitting a 3-pointer, giving Peeskill a 51-48 edge.
Early in the fourth quarter, Kearse took over. He hit back-to-back jumpers, then assisted on a Triche three-point play. All told, six of Kearse’s 16 points came in this frame.
Despite all this, the Red Devils had a 66-65 edge when, with 48 seconds left, Hymes hit a jumper to push J-D ahead by one. A defensive stop here could mean a victory in regulation.
Instead, driving to the basket again, Brickhouse got fouled with 20.2 seconds left. He missed the first free throw, but made the second after J-D used a time-out to try and freeze him.
With the game tied 67-67, the Rams had a chance to win it on the last possession of regulation. Thompson got an open jumper from the corner, but missed, and Triche’s fallaway jumper went off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Coleman and Kearse both hit baskets early in OT to push J-D in front 71-67. Four times, the Rams moved the lead to four, but each time Peekskill answered with a basket to pull back within two.
As the OT period wound down, the Red Devils had three chances to pull even again. Twice, Watts missed jump shots, the second one hanging on the rim before falling out as Coleman got the rebound and, with 9.8 seconds left, was fouled.
In a one-and-one situation, Coleman missed, and Brickhouse drove coast-to-coast, only to see his shot roll off the rim, too, and go out of bounds with 0.5 seconds left. Moments later, J-D was celebrating a second consecutive state championship.
Hymes led with 21 points and six assists, while Coleman put on a show with 18 points and 18 rebounds and Kearse stepped up with 16 points. Triche, with 12 points and eight rebounds, garnered tournament MVP honors as Thompson got six points, including what proved to be the winning basket with less than a minute left in OT.
For Peekskill, Brickhouse led a brave and valiant effort with 22 points, while Watts, who is going to the University of Albany next fall, added 21 points.
This first-rate game proved a complete and stark contrast to what took place the day before in the state Class A semifinal against Batavia, the Section V champions.
Forced into a plodding, slow tempo, the Red Rams were completely out of sorts, yet battled its way to a 40-32 victory over the Blue Devils.
Cold at the start, J-D had just five points in the first quarter, as Batavia used as much of the 35-second clock as it could in every possession, dictating the game’s tempo.
Somewhere in the second quarter, the Rams started to click, as Triche led a 9-0 run that alone helped produce a 20-13 halftime edge.
Still, Batavia stuck with its game plan, pulling within one, 24-23, late in the third period, and staying within sight the rest of the way. In fact, when it was 32-30, the Blue Devils had a chance to tie or get the lead, only to have the shots go off target.
Staying poised in a slowdown situation it had never faced all season, the Rams got a key basket from Triche to make it 34-30, then used free throws by Triche and Kearse in the last minute to ice the victory.
Only Triche, with 17 points, scored in double figures, as he added four rebounds. Hymes got nine points, with Thompson adding nine rebounds and Coleman only managing two points and six rebounds — something that would drastically change in the finals.
J-D isn’t done playing basketball, either. As in 2004 and 2008, the Rams will go after the state Federation championship this weekend in Glens Falls, starting with Friday night’s semifinal against Iona Prep.